Our recent Canstar Blue survey of 1,015 gym attendees found that the majority (75 per cent) go to the gym three or more times per week. In fact, 14 per cent go six or more times per week. That’s a lot of hours being devoted to exercise.
But the old adage “you can never out-train a bad diet” still rings true, and it’s important to make sure you’re eating the right food to get the best results. No matter how many times a week you go to the gym, if you’re taking in more energy than you’re outputting, you’re not going to achieve the fitness goals you are working so hard for.
Here are six great pre- and post-workout foods to keep you on track, and help you get the best out of your gym workout.
Fruit and vegetable smoothies
Smoothies are a great pre-workout food for fast acting energy. The combination of carbohydrates and high-quality protein work perfectly, with the carbs from the fruit and veggies breaking down quickly and the protein used later to prevent muscle damage.
The easy to consume smoothie is a crowd favourite for many celebrities and gym junkies alike, such as self-proclaimed clean eating and fitness goddess Gwyneth Paltrow. To eat like Gwyneth, make your own smoothie at home by blending ½ cup plain, low-fat yogurt, ½ cup fruit and 1 cup fruit juice.
Greek yoghurt and oats
Oats are full of fibre, which means they’ll gradually release carbohydrates to keep energy levels consistent. The addition of yoghurt adds a complex carbohydrate which will provide an immediate energy boost to kick-start your workout. This combo is ideal for a big workout or long run, giving you both the short- and long-term energy you need.
Eating the right foods doesn’t always mean needing to make expensive or complex meals. Bananas are regularly considered ‘nature’s power bar’ and are a great snack for about 30 minutes before you hit the gym.
High in potassium and loaded with digestible carbohydrates, these provide that quick energy boost you need and are ideal for the morning exerciser.
Grilled chicken and mixed vegetables
Post workout meals can be a bit more substantial than pre-workout, and are critical to your body’s recovery. Studies have shown that muscles are most receptive to rebuilding glycogen stores within the first 30 minutes after exercise, and eating within this window will minimise muscle stiffness and soreness.
The lean protein and carbohydrates in chicken will fill you up, without making you feel overly bloated like a big helping of pasta or rice might. The addition of veggies ensures you meet your recommended five servings of vegetables per day, to keep you healthy and fit.
Spinach omelette with avocado
Eggs are a great source of inexpensive, high quality protein and have been proven to aid in muscle recovery and growth. Eggs are packed with B vitamins, Vitamin A, Folate, Phosphorous and Selenium, and also contain decent amounts of Vitamins D, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Calcium and Zinc.
Recent studies have found that eggs can leave you feeling fuller for longer, meaning you’ll be less likely to undo all your good work and binge eat later on. The addition of avocado adds a dose of fibre and monounsaturated (good!) fats. Meanwhile, spinach is a superfood that boasts a number of health benefits from boosting your complexion to reducing inflammation.
Some people find it hard to stomach solid food immediately after a workout, which can make it hard to eat within that all-important 30 minute window. For those with a sensitive stomach, try drinking some chocolate milk.
Chocolate milk is the latest craze in post-workout snacks because it provides plenty of protein, carbohydrates, calcium and B vitamins. Until now, chocolate milk has been a well-kept secret from the general gym community, but has long been used by professional sports athletes to aid recovery.