Working hard in the gym or out in the nature, doing sweaty cardio sessions and going on long runs, doing your best while doing sports is of course very important, but without proper nutrition, you definitely will not be able to reach your goals. What is almost even more important than the efforts you make during the trainings, is nutrition. In the last few weeks we explained what you should eat before strength training to give you power in the gym and what to eat after to help your muscles recover. This week, we’re going to talk about what you should eat before and after cardio workouts, whether it is a 30-minute sweat session on a cardio machine in the gym or a 5k run outside!
Just as it was the case with strength training, the timing of your pre-workout meal is really important for cardio workouts as well. If you’re planning a run or cardio session, make sure your last proper meal is ate least 2 hours before, to avoid an upset stomach.
Then about an hour before the workout we recommend eating a 150-200kcal balanced snack that has both easily digestible carbs and proteins. One hour will be enough time for your body to start breaking down the proteins and digest the food enough so you won’t feel uncomfortable.
Great choices for this snack include:
- Whole wheat toast or bagel with peanut butter
- Banana and low fat yoghurt with a drizzle of honey
- Yoghurt and granola with fresh berries
- Pita bread with hummus and chopped carrot
However, it is different for each and every person: you might have to experiment and see what works best for your body. For me personally, if I have this snack closer to my run than the one-hour mark, I tend to get side cramps, because my body didn’t have enough time to digest.
And if you still feel like you need a burst of energy before your run, choose a small portion of some easily digested carbs – natural sugars that will give you the first kick of fuel your body needs to start – about 20-30 minutes before. You can try some crackers or dried fruits like raisins and dried cranberries. Another amazing and delicious option is PROBAR Bolt energy chews that contain caffeine from Yerba Mate, electrolytes and vitamin B to help you step up your game right when you need it!
Your body will need a mix of proteins and carbs after finishing up a cardio session to refuel. You won’t need as much protein as in case of a strength training – but running, biking or doing the elliptical still require muscle work so you need to keep the recovery of your muscles in mind! However, post-workout foods for cardio tend to be mostly carb-rich.
Smoothies might be the most optional choices for this purpose. Use a mixture of your favorite fruits in season, add some milk or nut milk, some natural sweeteners and some vanilla extract. You can even add some yoghurt or protein powder to make your smoothie richer and higher in protein!
Another great idea is slicing up a banana or two and spreading peanut or almond butter or it – it gives you a nice mixture of carbs, protein and fat. A lot of people also praise chocolate milk as a great post-workout option, as it give your some sugar to refuel and protein from the milk – however, drink it with moderation and try to opt for a low fat version if possible!