The Importance of a Pre-Workout Meal

Are you hitting the gym or going for a nice morning run? Make sure you eat a light meal one to two hours before your workout — you need the energy to fuel your exercise.

This is especially important if you’re working out in the morning. Make sure you have breakfast, as most of the energy from your last meal would have been used up in your sleep.

While you should not work out on an empty stomach, you should not eat too much either. Exercising on a full stomach can give you a tummy ache and spoil your workout. Planning to exercise after a large meal? Wait three to four hours before doing any vigorous physical activity so the food has time to digest.

What to Eat Before a Workout

In general, your pre-workout meal should contain mainly carbohydrates and some protein. The carbs will give you energy to power through the workout, while a small amount of protein may help build muscle and aid muscle recovery[1].

For the best fuel, choose natural, non-processed foods prepared in healthier ways. Avoid heavy food like curries, gravies, and deep-fried items, which can leave you sluggish.

Try one of these meal combos:

  • Wholegrain toast with unsalted and unsweetened peanut butter
  • Wholegrain toast with low fat cheese
  • Egg or tuna sandwich
  • Greek yoghurt and fresh fruit
  • Wholegrain crackers with hummus
  • Oats made with low fat plain milk

And remember to drink water before your workout!

Remember to Drink During Workouts

Working out for 30 to 60 minutes? You probably don’t need to eat during your workout, whether you’re doing a cardio workout or resistance training. You do need to stay hydrated — you’re constantly losing water through perspiration.

The best way to stay hydrated is to drink plain water, so it is a good idea to always have a water bottle with you when you exercise.

If you’re exercising for more than an hour, have a handful of raisins or a banana to keep you going.

What should I drink during my workout?

While sports drinks replenish the salts that we lose through perspiration, they also contain sugar and calories. Stick to drinking water unless you’re doing high-intensity physical activities like mountain biking, or your workout lasts longer than an hour.

Bonus sports nutrition tip: Go for a sports drink with the Healthier Choice Symbol (HCS). HCS sports drinks contain at least 25% less sugar compared to regular sports drinks.

The Importance of a Post-Workout Meal

Eating after a workout will also affect your workout, believe it or not!

When we exercise, we workout our muscles so they grow stronger. What we eat after the workout should help our muscles repair and grow — and protein does just that!

We also want to restock our fuel supplies, so besides protein, make sure you get enough carbohydrates in your post-workout meal too.

Ideally, you should have a meal within an hour of finishing your workout.

What to Eat After a Workout

Here are some meal ideas:

  • Two chapattis and tandoori chicken with yoghurt
  • Yong tau foo with non-fried, non-processed options like tofu and lady’s fingers
  • Economic rice with lean meat and vegetables; make sure to choose non-fried items
  • Egg omelette with avocado on toast
  • Grilled skinless chicken with vegetables

And remember, hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Drink enough water to replace the fluids you’ve lost. Tip: keep a pitcher of water infused with a few slices of lemon or orange in your fridge so you always have chilled water to drink after exercise. Shiok!

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  1. Workout nutrition explained. Precision Nutrition
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