FROM LIVE BETTER AMERICA

Spring Fitness Guide: The Best Before & After Workout Foods (And When To Eat Them)

Whether you’re a back-of-the-pack marathon runner, a competitive triathlete or a weekend warrior just trying to get a little healthier, what — and when — you eat can affect how you feel and how you perform. Follow these pre- and post-workout noshing tips to make the most of your workout’s calorie-burning potential, and to help your body recuperate more quickly.

Drink up
Hydration is key to performing at your best. In its “Selecting and Effectively Using Hydration for Fitness” recommendations, the American College of Sports Medicine suggests downing 2 to 3 cups of water in the two to three hours prior to your workout and 1/2 to 1 cup of water every 15 to 20 minutes during your workout. If it’s warmer (or you sweat more than the average person), drink a bit more. Unless you’re planning a 90-minute or longer workout, scrap the sports drinks and stick with plain water.

Time it right
Eating right before stepping onto your mat or treadmill can sap your energy, set off cramps or even send you running for the ladies’ room. But going too long without food can leave you without the stamina you need to ace the competition.

To feel fueled throughout your workout, follow the Mayo Clinic’s meal timing guidelines:

- Small (100- to 200-calorie) snacks should be consumed about 30 minutes to an hour before your workout
- If you plan to eat a small meal, it should be eaten two to three hours before a workout
- If you’ll be eating a larger meal, do so no less than three to four hours before exercising

Eat smart and simple

The ideal pre-workout meal or snack is low in fat, moderate in carbohydrates and protein, low in fiber and is made up of familiar foods. Some good choices include: hummus with whole grain crackers or raw carrots and celery, granola fruit kabobs, an avocado smoothie or oatmeal topped with fruit.

Within 30 minutes to an hour of finishing your workout, eat a small amount of protein and a whole grain. Meals like English Muffin Breakfast Pizzas, Healthified Chicken Pineapple Stir-Fry or Healthified Chicken and Black Bean Burritos help refuel energy stores, and build and repair your soon-to-be stronger muscles. Not able to squeeze in a meal that soon? Try some low-fat chocolate milk, a hard-boiled egg or a fruit-and-nut bar like Larabar for great recovery benefits.

Just remember that how much and how often you eat depends on the duration and intensity of your workout. Tackling a triathlon burns more energy than a restorative yoga class, so make smart choices based on your personal calorie needs.

Whip up one of these recipes pre- and post-exercise to make the most of your workout’s calorie-burning potential, and to help your body recuperate more quickly.

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  • Super Athlete Spinach Smoothies

    <a href="http://www.livebetteramerica.com/recipes/super-athlete-spinach-smoothies/f863aed7-4481-4b24-88de-2d5623e424c5?nicam5=PARTNERSHIPS&nichn5=AOL&niseg5=TDCORE_LBA&esrc=16549" target="_blank">Get the recipe</a> After a run or a workout, this hearty smoothie will refresh and restore, with its combination of spinach, Greek yogurt, avocado and berries.

  • Hummus and Cucumber Bites

    <a href="http://www.livebetteramerica.com/recipes/hummus-and-cucumber-bites/da5004a6-ec7f-42d6-92b6-0abe61949073?nicam5=PARTNERSHIPS&nichn5=AOL&niseg5=TDCORE_LBA&esrc=16549" target="_blank">Get the recipe</a> Calories 40 Fat 1g Saturated Fat 0g Sodium 70mg

  • Granola Fruit Kabobs

    <a href="http://www.livebetteramerica.com/recipes/granola-fruit-kabobs/34f343d9-cb0c-4cba-9534-734b8b9844b8?nicam5=PARTNERSHIPS&nichn5=AOL&niseg5=TDCORE_LBA&esrc=16549" target="_blank">Get the recipe</a> Fresh fruit is coated in yogurt and rolled in crunchy granola for healthy snacking that's just minutes away.

  • Healthified Raspberry-Peanut Butter Pinwheels

    <a href="http://www.livebetteramerica.com/recipes/healthified-raspberry-peanut-butter-pinwheels/e6fd6e72-618c-43ce-9063-84e1247a891a?nicam5=PARTNERSHIPS&nichn5=AOL&niseg5=TDCORE_LBA&esrc=16549" target="_blank">Get the recipe</a> 61 percent fewer calories and 88 percent less sugar than the original recipe.

  • English Muffin Breakfast Pizzas

    <a href="http://www.livebetteramerica.com/recipes/english-muffin-breakfast-pizzas/bc7befab-47b6-4df5-9e10-8d702747936d?nicam5=PARTNERSHIPS&nichn5=AOL&niseg5=TDCORE_LBA&esrc=16549" target="_blank">Get the recipe</a> Calories 150 Fat 4 1/2g Saturated Fat 1g Sodium 570mg

  • Creamy Avocado Smoothies

    <a href="http://www.livebetteramerica.com/recipes/creamy-avocado-smoothies/3467adb2-8286-41cc-b8f2-5f3830039f0f?nicam5=PARTNERSHIPS&nichn5=AOL&niseg5=TDCORE_LBA&esrc=16549" target="_blank">Get the recipe</a> Calories 180 Fat 5g Saturated Fat 1g Sodium 10mg

  • Healthified Chicken and Black Bean Burritos

    <a href="http://www.livebetteramerica.com/recipes/healthified-chicken-and-black-bean-burritos/f491bdd0-2d1c-4a06-b364-3e27ce70e646?nicam5=PARTNERSHIPS&nichn5=AOL&niseg5=TDCORE_LBA&esrc=16549" target="_blank">Get the recipe</a> 40 percent fewer calories, 42 percent less fat and 41 percent less sat fat than the original recipe.

  • Healthified Chicken-Pineapple Stir-Fry

    <a href="http://www.livebetteramerica.com/recipes/healthified-chicken-pineapple-stir-fry/70a90a71-f6ad-48ca-b1d2-2cda7155c69a?nicam5=PARTNERSHIPS&nichn5=AOL&niseg5=TDCORE_LBA&esrc=16549" target="_blank">Get the recipe</a> Power up with this super stir-fry. You’ll get more than 100 percent of a day’s vitamin A requirement plus 60 percent of your vitamin C.

  • Hummus

    <a href="http://www.livebetteramerica.com/recipes/hummus/c180d321-39a8-4d07-bade-1a873d3b0947?nicam5=PARTNERSHIPS&nichn5=AOL&niseg5=TDCORE_LBA&esrc=16549" target="_blank">Get the recipe</a> Calories 120 Fat 4g Saturated Fat 1/2g Sodium 230mg

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