What a personal trainer eats before & after exercise

April 6, 2016

We wanted to bring a little bit of fitness advice into the eatwise arena to explore the subject of eating around exercise.

As well as eating well for day-to-day health, it’s important to understand how to fuel our bodies properly before exercise and help it recover afterwards, to really reap the benefits of all those burpies and bicep curls.

How long before a workout should you eat? What kind of food will fuel your session best? How much should you consume? And what about post exercise?

To get the facts, we’ve enlisted our go-to girl for all things fitness, Anna Reich, a personal trainer with 10 years in the business, to impart some words of wisdom.

Personal trainer Anna Reich

Personal trainer Anna Reich

Being a personal trainer has taught me two major things: 1. How to exercise and 2. How to eat in order to achieve and maintain a better body.

My method, like eatwise’s main ethos and driving force, is PASSION – which I strive to create within my clients. I don’t want them simply following my instructions like robots, because when I’m not there to prop them up, they will wain and fail because there are no roots. I want them to understand and appreciate the benefits of fuelling and refuelling correctly. So, here I am, to give you an insight and education into ‘eating for exercise’, which will hopefully spark an independent interest in you.

I’m going to impart with more detailed recipes at a later date, but as a taster, here’s an example of my approach to food for fitness:

Before exercise

  • Eat slow-release carbs 1-2 hours before a session. The food will have digested and its energy will be available for you to use. Things like oats, brown rice, sweet potatoes are great choices. Try a veggie omelette with brown rice, for example.
  • If you didn’t get a chance to eat a decent meal an hour before the session (don’t let it happen again!) or still feel a bit peckish, snack on something with a higher GI for a quick energy release. Something like a banana, satsuma or decent pinch of dried fruit. Nothing too heavy that will make you feel uncomfortable and hinder your workout. Here’s when I also think an espresso is a good idea – coffee is a natural stimulant that will galvanise your workout.

After exercise

  • Now you’ll need carbs to re-stock your energy stores and protein to fix up ‘n’ grow dem muscles! I avoid fats post workout because it can slow down the effectiveness of the carbs and proteins and these are the most important macro nutrients at this point in time.
  • My fave post-workout meal is cottage cheese with some whey protein isolate and oats: carbs and proteins and some sweetener in the whey to spike your insulin which helps to courier the protein and glucose to where they need to be.
  • Aim to eat within 1 hour of working out when your metabolism is stoked. In short, this is to ensure food is used as material to mend muscle – not stored as fat.
  • My advice is to have a quick refuel snack immediately after a workout and then have a meal of protein and vegetables – this way you’ll avoid getting home, feeling ravenous, and eating everything in sight!

Today was a big leg day for me, so here’s what I ate pre and post workout:

  • Pre: 60g of organic oats, handful of blueberries and a dollop of plain Greek yogurt
  • Super-Pre: 30 mins before leaving for the gym I had half a banana
  • After: Cottage cheese mixed with oats and chocolate whey protein isolate

Next time, I’ll bring you more insight into my diet and foods to maximise and bolster your exercise efforts.

Anna x

Find more from Anna here

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