When it comes to getting results there is more to it than one would imagine. I have learned through my experience as a national level bikini competitor, that nutrition creates 80% of the results we all seek. I wanted to take a moment and educate people on the importance of good nutrition and share with you my knowledge of the best pre and post-workout meals you can have on a plant based diet.
The Pre-Workout Meal
When you know that you’re going to exercise during the day it’s very important to make sure you’re eating foods that are going to fuel your workout. Carbs are the primary energy source, followed by fat. Proteins are the least effective fuel source. Proteins however are the most important in muscle recovery and repair after a workout. There are two strategies when it comes to your pre-workout nutrition: Immediate workout strategies and prepared pre-workout strategies.
Immediate workout strategy is when you consume food within an hour upon exercise. For this I would recommend fruits. Fruits are an amazing source of energy. They have lots of carbs and sugars and are very easily digested. Immediate workout nutrition should be consumed 15-30 minutes before exercise. If your workout is going to last more than an hour it would be a good idea to bring some extra fruit with you such as; banana, apple, orange and a bag of dates just for continued nutrition.
Prepared pre-workout strategies is when you have a long workout planned for later in the day or tomorrow. This would include fueling up on complex carbs such as: rice, pasta, potatoes, oats etc. These are slow digesting and provide sustained energy as well as protein and good fats. As you get closer to your workout: make sure to eat every couple hours. Example meals would be a protein bar, salad etc. Then right before, pack in some fruit. Fruit contains a lot of water which helps with hydration and immediate energy.
Post Workout Meal
Once your workout is through, now it’s time for your post workout meal. Since carbs are the primarily fuel source during exercise it becomes very important to consume carbs after a workout of any type to replenish any nutritents lost during exercise. This is the one of the most important meals of your day. The first hour after completing a workout is known as the “nutritional window of opportunity.” Consumption of protein is the most important. Amino acids found in protein are the building blocks and responsible for repair and muscle recovery. When you exercise, what happens is you create micro tears in your muscles. Your body requires amino acids (also known as protein) to rebuild those muscle fibers so they can grow and get stronger. Not only that but amino acids also prevents injury. If you don’t consume protein and a wide variety of amino acids after exercise you make yourself vulnerable to injury. This can easily happen if you exercise hard and don’t supply your body with the proper nutrition and then proceed to exercise again the same day or following day. This has also been known to happen even while stretching the damaged muscles afterwards.
I recommend having a banana and protein shake as soon as your workout is done. The reason behind the protein shake is because nutrition is in liquid form and is easier for you to digest and absorb than food. This will help you recover from exercise. Then a proper meal can follow 30 minutes later.
Here are some great examples of Pre and Post workout meals. For my post workout meal, I focus my meals around whole foods high in protein and calories. This meal should be the biggest meal of your day.
1.) Couple pieces of fruit
2.) White baked potato
3.) Whole Wheat toast with sliced banana and cinnamon
4.) Oatmeal with fresh fruit
1.) Big bowl of bean soup with vegetable loaded salad
2.) Grilled tofu with a baked potato and veggies
3.) Bean chili over a potato
4.) Veggie stir fry with brown rice