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How to Optimize Your Pre- and Post-Workout Meals

No matter what the reason behind your workout is, food is your fuel. It’s as simple as that.

Your body needs food to function properly, and it can even boost your athletic performance. It all comes down to optimizing your pre- and post-workout meals. Choosing the right foods and eating at the best times can give your body the fuel to push through a challenging workout and even go past your limits to achieve something greater. Certain foods can help your body recover faster and adapt to new workout plans, enabling you to become a stronger, more efficient athlete.

“Proper nutrition is the key to unlock your body’s potential.” — Brian Holifield

Here are our pre- and post-workout meal tips to maximize your performance.

Choose an effective pre-workout snack/meal

Your pre-workout meal is all about what you eat and when you eat it. So, let’s start with the when. The ideal time to eat is between 30 minutes and three hours before your workout, depending on the size of the meal, the time of day, and the length of your workout. So, if you’re working out in the morning for about an hour, you probably don’t need to down a whole meal. A small, healthy snack or mini-breakfast is typically good enough. The goal of timing your meal is to ensure your body is done digesting by the time you hit the gym, but within enough time that you haven’t used up all those calories yet.

Now for what to eat. When it comes to pre-workout meals, carbs and protein are your best friends. Carbs are an essential part of fueling your body before you work out. Your body needs glucose, which is broken down carbs that go into your muscles) to work properly, especially when it comes to high-intensity workouts. Studies have shown that eating carbs before your workout can enhance your performance by boosting your endurance levels. Like carbs, protein is essential to generating the energy you need to work out. Protein is especially beneficial in strength and weight training because it helps your body build and repair muscle. Certain pre-workout supplements, like our CBD Complete Pre-Workout, can help prep your body for your workout by providing you with multiple essential nutrients at once.

TLDR

Before your workout, eat healthy carbs like fruit, vegetables, oatmeal, and whole grains. And don’t skip the protein! Reach for foods like greek yogurt, protein powders, nuts, seeds, and eggs. Eating between 30 minutes and 3 hours before your workout is best to give your body time to digest and get all that good stuff out of your meal so your performance can be at its best by the time you hit the gym.

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Stay hydrated

This isn’t just a pre- or post-workout tip but also a “during the workout” tip. Regular water intake is essential for anybody, especially when putting your body through an intense workout sesh. There’s not a one-size-fits-all approach to water intake. But generally speaking, the goal is to be fully hydrated before your workout. The typical water intake recommendation is 250ml about 30 minutes before and about 500ml during your workout (for a 1-hour session). Post-workout, especially if your workout is longer than 90-minutes, it’s recommended to reach for an electrolyte-rich drink to hydrate and replace the nutrients your body lost during exercise.

Refuel with a strong post-workout meal

Post-workout, your body is essentially drained of its stored-up fuel source, so it’s important to replenish your body as much as possible. You don’t want to run on empty for the rest of your day. About 15 minutes to an hour after your workout is the best time to refuel. Even with something as simple as a healthy snack or a protein drink. Generally, 2-3 hours after your mini-refuel is the best time for a nutritious meal. It’s important to have a balanced, healthy meal to replace what your body lost during your workout. Aim for a solid ratio of healthy carbs, clean protein, and healthy fats (like avocado, nuts, etc.). Most importantly, don’t reach for those easy “I just worked out so I can eat anything" kinds of snacks like sugary, processed, or fast food.

The most important thing to remember is to do what works for you. Everybody has different needs, workout plans, schedules, and preferences. These guidelines and suggestions are a great starting point when figuring out how to optimize your meals for your workouts. Don’t be scared off because of trial and error, and don’t be afraid to ask for guidance from workout buddies, teammates, coaches, and nutritionists. We’re all on this journey together, so let’s do it together! 

“Food really is fuel … you really have to take it seriously or else it will negatively impact your performance.” — Andrew Luck

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