The right fuel is important no matter what your fitness goals are. Whether you are looking to lose weight or build muscle, your diet is an incredibly important part of reaching those goals. Being intentional about what you put in your body before and after you work out is going to make that journey easier and faster.
Here’s all that you need to know about the right foods to eat before, during, and after any form of physical activity, including your Liteboxer workout:
Before you workout
Supplying your body with the right nutrition before you step into the ring can help maximize your workout and ensure that your body is burning calories instead of muscle. Just like you wouldn’t drive a car with no gas, you shouldn’t treat your body any differently.
When you’re running on empty and decide to start a workout, this forces your body to break down amino acids from your muscle for energy. This means that instead of burning fat, you could be burning muscle tissue instead.
Not only that, but you’re less likely to get the most from your workout if you don’t have the right energy driving you forward. Exercising on an empty stomach might make those final flurries at the end of your boxing round seem impossible! Instead of feeling fatigued, you want to feel like you have the energy to give it your all in the ring.
Load up on carbohydrates 1-3 hours before your workout
Most people don’t do well eating a big meal right before working out. So instead, we recommend eating a snack or small meal one to three hours before your Liteboxer workout.
The best choice for a pre-workout meal or snack is carbohydrates. Not only are they quicker to digest than proteins or fats, but they also supply your body with the energy you need to power through your workout.
But we’re not just talking about any kind of carbs. Ideally, you want to opt for complex carbs instead of simple carbs. This is a good rule of thumb not just before a workout but for healthy eating in general.
Complex carbs have three or more sugars in them and are often characterized by the inclusion of fiber, which helps your body’s digestive system. Complex carbs include fruit, potatoes, whole grains, beans, oatmeal, whole-wheat bread, etc.
Simple carbs only have one or two sugars in them and digest pretty quickly, leaving you feeling hungry and unsatisfied. Simple carbs include soft drinks, candy, cakes, cookies, etc.
Our top picks for healthy snacks and meals to eat before you work out
Skip those simple carbs and load up on healthy complex carbs instead that give your body fiber as well as a little protein. Here are some ideas for pre-workout snacks:
- Low-sugar Greek yogurt with fruit and/or granola
- Banana with peanut or almond butter
- Whole wheat toast with peanut butter
- Pasta or rice
- Whole-grain cereal and milk
- Oatmeal with fruit and/or nuts
- Fruit salad
- Veggies with hummus
- Homemade smoothie
For our early-morning fighters or anyone who doesn’t have the benefit of 1-3 hours to enjoy a meal before your workout, we recommend grabbing fruit as your go-to snack! They are a lot quicker to digest but still give you that needed energy.
What about protein and fat?
It’s not bad to have a little bit of protein or high-fat foods pre-workout. However, it’s best to opt for high-carb content food instead.
Too much protein and high-fat foods beforehand can make it harder to digest. This is a problem during your workout because digestion takes away oxygen and blood flow from the muscles, which could make you feel sluggish, tired, or heavy.
However, a little bit of protein and fat like a cup of nuts or some sliced deli meat is fine to have in moderation pre-workout.
Make sure to hydrate!
Before your workout and throughout your day, it’s important to drink plenty of water. Research has found that you are more likely to have a better workout and feel like that workout was easier when you drink between 400 to 600 ml of water before you get started.
The recommended amount of water you should drink per day is 13 cups for adult men and 9 cups for adult women. To help stay hydrated, keep a water bottle by your side as a reminder to take sips throughout your day. That way when it’s time to step into the ring your body’s ready to go!
During your workout
If you’re working out for less than an hour, the only thing you need to worry about during your workout is staying hydrated. Keep a water bottle right next to your Liteboxer so you can take quick sips between rounds. Our trainers make sure to call out reminders to drink regularly so keep an ear open and take sips when they take sips!
For high-intensity exercises that last longer than an hour, such as a marathon, hike, or back-to-back Liteboxer workouts, for example, it’s important to snack on easy-to-eat high-carb foods when you feel low on energy. Some ideas include fruit, granola, or a low-sugar energy bar.
After your workout
Then, after your workout is over it’s important to refuel your body to replenish all the energy stores you just used up fighting in the ring.
Load up on protein and carbs
Within 30 to 60 minutes of your workout make sure to grab a high-carb and high-protein snack or meal to replenish your body’s resources and aid in your recovery.
Protein is especially helpful after a workout because it helps your body repair and build lean muscle tissue. You also need carbs because carbs are your body’s preferred source of energy. After a tough workout you’ve used up a good amount of that energy source, and you need to load up on more healthy carbs to replenish those nutrients.
Our top picks for healthy snacks and meals to eat after you work out
- Tuna or sliced meat on whole-grain toast
- Assorted nuts and seeds (almonds, cashews, flax seeds, etc.)
- Low-fat milk or chocolate milk
- Homemade smoothie with nuts, fruit, and low-sugar yogurt
- Cheese and whole-grain crackers
- Low-sugar protein shakes (keep an eye out for added sugar!)
- Greek yogurt with nuts
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Bean dip or hummus with veggies
Drink plenty of water post-workout
After you finish your workout make sure to load up on plenty of fluids. This helps replace what you sweat out and also helps regulate your body’s temperature so you can cool down. Water also plays an important role in transporting nutrients throughout the body, which supports muscle recovery and helps avoid post-workout cramps.
If you struggle drinking enough water throughout the day, try adding a little bit of 100% juice to your water. This helps add extra healthy carbs to your diet and replenishes your glucose levels. Or, try pouring an electrolyte boost packet into your water for extra flavor. This helps replenish low sodium levels post-workout.
How much should I eat?
This number is going to look different for everyone. As a general rule of thumb, the more active you are, the more carbohydrates and protein you should consume before and after you work out.
Before making any changes to your diet make sure to check in with your primary care doctor or nutritionist. They can help you set realistic and healthy goals that align with your specific needs.
Also, make sure to check out the USDA’s MyPlate Plan. This resource helps you get a better sense of your food group targets by providing a personalized food plan based on your age, gender, height, weight, and physical activity level.
There is no magic formula for a healthy pre or post-workout snack or meal, it’s going to look different from person to person. The real key is stocking your fridge and pantry with a variety of nutrient-dense foods that you enjoy eating, that fill you up, and that supply your body with the energy it needs.
When you stock up on whole grains, fruits, veggies, fiber, healthy fats, and lean protein you have healthy options to choose from when your stomach tells you that you’re hungry. These types of foods will keep you satisfied and feeling full for longer. Plus they pack the power for that next workout in the ring!