With so many products on the market these days it gets increasingly confusing to know what you should be eating before you exercise and what you should be eating afterwards.  After all it takes a great deal of effort to actually start and complete that workout so you want to make sure your are optimizing your results. Fueling your body correctly can mean the difference between feeling strong after your workout or getting a sugar crash.

A new study published by the Nutrition Society has revealed that combining a healthy well balanced diet with exercise is better for you than only eating well without working out, or only going to the gym without changing your diet.

Not only are the combination of diet and exercise the winning combination fueling your body with the correct nutrients will increase your energy and the strength to improve your performance, as well as help you to recover faster from muscle soreness.

Pre-Workout 

You can consume a meal between two to three hours, and up to 30 minutes, before your workout. However, it’s important to note that choosing foods that are easy to digest is key. Carbs help maximize glycogen stores for high-intensity exercise, while fat helps fuel your body for longer less intense workouts. For example, If you decide to eat two to three hours prior to your workout scrambled egg on wholemeal toast topped with half an avocado will serve you well. However, if you have less than one hour prior to your workout than eating some Greek yoghurt with berries would be the better option.

Post-Workout

One of the key functions after your workout is the rebuilding of glycogen stores so that the body can try to repair torn muscle tissue. Choosing the best nutrients as soon after your workout as you can will help your body achieve this process faster. During your workout your muscles start to use up their glycogen stores for fuel, it is therefore important to replenish by eating carbohydrates soon after your workout. This is particularly necessary if you took part in more of an endurance activity than resistance training. 

You are not wrong in believing that eating protein will actually improve muscle protein synthesis and aid recovery. Making sure you consume sufficient protein after your workout is vital to give your body the amino acids it needs to repair and build new muscle tissue. It is advisable to eat this meal within an hour post-workout, particularly if you have done an intense workout. 

Replenishing your protein with a protein bar after your workout is often not the best source due to the fact that many brands on the market, whilst high in protein, are often high in sugar too. 

Hydrating prior, during and post workout is totally necessary and is often best achieved with plain old water. Beware of the added sugar and artificial sweeteners added to sports drinks, they are often necessary if you have completed a really strenuous, and long workout but in most cases water is always best. In fact many runners will hydrate quicker by adding a pinch of salt to their water.