Energy Boosting Fruit to Eat Before & After a Workout
As any fitness enthusiast knows, diet is an important part of a workout regimen, with the food you eat both before and after exercise having a huge impact on your performance. A good understanding of nutrition and what your body needs can not only enhance your workout, but also aid the recovery process and minimise muscle damage too.
Fruit is an excellent choice of workout food because it offers specific nutrients that are vital for exercise by helping to boost energy levels. Here, we will look at the nutrients that are so important for a workout, and what fruits to eat both before and after exercise.
The roles of nutrients in exercise
Eating before exercise is a way to provide fuel for your body, but like a car, you have to pick the right type of fuel to get the best performance possible. There are three key nutrients that are needed in order to effectively fuel your body during a workout: fat, carbohydrates and protein.
With the right combination and amounts of these nutrients, you can maximise your performance during exercise by staving off hunger and fighting fatigue. Eating the right food post-workout will also help to aid recovery as well. Here are the roles each nutrient plays during and after exercise:
Although too much fat is of course a bad thing for your body, this particular nutrient is ideal fuel for longer forms of exercise. Fat is the most energy-dense of all nutrients, which is why your body stores excess fat for later use.
Moderate to low-intensity workouts that last for longer periods will utilise the energy from fat, which is why it is so important to include, in moderation, as part of your diet.
The unsaturated fats in nuts and nut products (e.g. almond butter) are a great source of this nutrient for workouts, as the ‘good’ fats found in nuts are heart-healthy and help to lower cholesterol levels while also providing the energy you need for exercise.
Glucose is essential fuel for workouts, as it powers your brain, and provides the main source of muscle energy for shorter, more intense workouts. This natural sugar comes from carbohydrates, which are particularly prevalent in fruit.
By eating carbohydrates as part of your pre-workout meal, you can help your body to store glucose, which will increase your energy and keep you alert during your workout.
As your body can only store a limited amount of glucose, carbohydrates provide short-term energy boosts, which fade as your body’s glucose supplies become depleted. This is why carbohydrates are so important for short, intense exercise, while longer workouts require the energy from fat.
Protein is the final nutrient that is important for exercise, particularly during pre-workout food, as it can help to increase muscle performance and growth. As with fat and carbs, this nutrient should also be eaten in moderation as part of a balanced diet, in order to gain the benefits associated with protein.
This nutrient, which is common in meat and fish, as well as nuts, also helps to improve muscle recovery, making it an important aspect of any workout meal.
Fruit Before Workout
Eating fruit before a workout, either as part of a meal, or a pre-exercise snack, can help provide the nutrients and energy you need to increase performance. When you eat is also important, as a large meal too close to working out can cause sluggishness and discomfort during exercise.
Ideally, you should aim to eat a balanced meal containing all the above nutrients 2-3 hours before you exercise. While it’s not always possible to do this, particularly if you’re trying to squeeze a quick gym visit in before work, eating this far in advance of a workout will offer you the best performance possible.
Examples of a pre-workout meal include: a two-egg omelet with wholegrain toast, avocado and a serving of mixed berries; or chicken with brown rice, roasted vegetables and an apple.
If your workout starts in around 2 hours, then it’s best to avoid fats and focus on carbohydrates and protein to ensure you get the energy you need. Try a smaller meal rich in fruits and nuts, such as porridge with banana and almonds; or a mixed berries and banana smoothie with protein powder and milk.
It’s still important to eat something, even if you have hardly any time to spare before exercise. Greek yoghurt with any type of fruit is a good choice as is trail mix containing dried fruit and nuts.
A banana is also an ideal pre-gym snack, as it is rich in carbohydrates and potassium, which helps to support muscle and nerve function. Apples, oranges, pears (and just about any other fruit) are also great choices for a quick bite before exercise.
These various options will help give you the energy you need, with eating fruit before a workout a highly effective way to increase your performance.
Fruit After Workout
While it is important to fuel up your body before a workout, to continue the car analogy, your body also needs proper maintenance afterwards to recover and continue to operate at a high standard.
Exercising uses a lot of energy, and drains your body’s stores of glucose. As a result, it is difficult for your body to recover these spent energy levels if they are not replenished within 15 to 30 minutes after completing a workout.
A good way to recover energy after exercise is to eat a carbohydrate-rich snack, which replenishes your body’s energy supplies. Eating fruit after a workout can help to reduce post-exercise fatigue, and aids muscle recovery to prepare you for future workouts.
Fruit is an important part of any workout regime, providing vital nutrients that provide energy, improve your performance, and help to promote recovery.