What to Eat and Drink When Working Out
As the weather warms up, the desire to work out gets stronger for many. Getting a great workout starts with fueling up and hydrating yourself for maximum energy. If you’re exercising for general health (one hour a day or less), you probably don’t need to worry about adding additional calories, especially if weight loss is your goal. Just keep hydration in mind—it’s critical for a better workout, particularly if you are sweating a lot.
A healthy diet is another important ingredient for successful workouts. You’ve heard it before, but the best diet is one rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains (such as barley, quinoa, millet and brown rice), along with lean protein, low-fat dairy and lots of water.
While plenty of bars and specialty beverages on the market promise to make you fitter, faster and stronger, home-grown snacks and good old water are best to keep your energy up before, during and after workouts, especially over the long term. Try making some homemade Honey Crunch Energy Bars with Wheat Germ. Pack them in your bag to eat before a workout or in the back of your jersey for a long bike ride. You’ll save money making your own snacks, and you’ll know exactly what you’re putting into your body. Specialty drinks often contain extra calories and other additives we really don’t need. Hydrate with calorie-free water and a little bit of 100 percent juice if you want some extra flavor.
As you begin to increase your workouts, you may need to up your calorie intake. Start by eating a small meal at least an hour before you start to sweat. Experiment to see how much time you need to digest your food. Sometimes a small snack about 30 minutes before you exercise is all you need to get the best workout. A banana, half a bagel or 6 ounces of juice will boost your energy.
After exercising, don’t drink back all the calories you just burned. Hydrate with water, and, if you’re working out intensely for over an hour, pour yourself a glass of skim chocolate milk for a great recovery drink. Then refuel with a balanced meal such as fish, chicken or beans; some brown rice or whole wheat pasta; a big salad or steamed vegetables; and a piece of fruit.