Do you know that having an appropriate meal before and after a workout can optimize your overall performance – no matter if you want to lose weight, gain weight, or build muscle?
And, do you know that the meal for each type of workout slightly varies?
If not, read this article now! Here is how to fuel for every workout – short or long, morning or night.
Early Morning Workout
I know that early morning workouts are difficult to find time for having breakfast and your body probably doesn’t feel like eating that early.
Having breakfast at 4:00 AM or 6:00 AM usually does not sound exciting, not saying that some exercisers fear overeating or eat the wrong foods – which cause stomach aches or side stitches later.
HOWEVER, I’m still here to advise you to fuel yourself before any early morning workout because a lot of studies said that fasted workouts decrease your overall performance while some studies showed no effect. But NONE of them said fasting before exercise can increase performance.
What types of food to eat?
Foods high in cholesterol, calories, and fat are not recommended for breakfast before a workout.
Instead, you should switch to foods containing high levels of carbohydrates, such as grain, vegetables, and fruits.
Your body digests carbohydrates faster than fat and protein – which is extremely perfect for quickly fueling early morning workouts. Pay attention to the recommended food quantity intake as well.
For Short, Low-intensity Early Morning Workouts (Under 60 Minutes)
According to some studies, it is still okay to work out without any gas in the tank if you have a heartful dinner with a lot of fats, protein, and carbs the night before.
It’s because the glycogen stores in your liver and muscles are increased and enough to fuel low-intensity exercises the next morning during a short time. If you feel good to fast before a workout, just do it. BUT remember to have recovery foods after that right then.
On the contrary, if you feel fasting workout decreases the overall performance, have some appropriate foods 30-90 minutes before starting exercises. Here are some suggestions from nutritionists, PTs, and experts:
- Greek yogurt
- Apples with raisins and peanut butter
- Yogurt parfaits with fruits and granola
- Fruit smoothies
My favorite breakfast menu (which is simple to prepare, tastes good, and doesn’t cause discomfort in the stomach) includes ½ of medium-sized sweet potato, ½ cup of berries, an apple, and a banana. You can replace the sweet potato with ½ cup of oatmeal if you like.
For Long Workouts (60+ Minutes)
Whether your exercise is low- or high-intensity, as long as it is more than 60 minutes, you must have breakfast beforehand.
But there’s a small change in the type of food intake.
Instead of eating just simple carbohydrates as above, exercisers should include both carbs and some protein in their breakfast in order to provide enough fuel for the extended workout.
Good foods that contain high levels of protein but don’t cause discomfort to your stomach are nuts, lean lunch meats, yogurt, low-fat cheese, protein powders, egg whites, and eggs. The recommended quantity of protein for a pre-workout meal is 20–30 grams.
It is essential to prepare and have a pre and post-workout meal if you intend to perform a late-night workout.
For Short Night Workouts (Under 60 Minutes)
Providing your body with enough quantity of simple carbs is enough for a pre-workout meal in this case, especially if you only perform low-intensity exercises.
My suggested pre-workout meal for you consists of dried fruits with nut trail mix or peanut butter, ½ cup of fruit, and egg whites. Or, you can try whole-grain crackers and a low-fat cheese stick.
For the post-workout meal, eat enough good fat, carbs, and protein in a 3:1 ratio from carbs to protein.
For Extended Night Workouts (Around 1 To 2 Hours)
Each meal should include enough content of good fat, carbs, and protein from whole foods but it should be light.
Yogurt with fresh fruit, a plant protein bowl, or a piece of salmon and broccoli is fine.
Many experts recommend keeping a 3:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein, but it’s best that each person should adjust to fit their body nature.
For regular night workouts and especially if you haven’t had dinner yet, eat exactly what you would normally eat as long as the meal provides enough good fat, carbs, and protein.
Will eating late at night gain weight?
In fact, “eating late at night gains weight” is just a myth. There’s no scientific evidence about it!
Conversely, many well-known personal trainers point out that eating what exactly you normally eat for dinner, no matter the hour – as long as it contains enough fat, carbs, and protein – can make people weigh less.
To avoid bloating during a workout, you should have an appropriate meal at least 15 minutes before getting started.
The post-workout meal should be at least 30 minutes after exercising. The suggested menu as above is for exercisers of all workout purposes – whether those who want to build muscles, lose weight, or gain weight.
I hope that this post helped you know more about how to fuel for every workout – short or long, morning or night. Thanks for reading!