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How to maximize your workout efficiency with proper nutrition

Nutrition for athletes is a strict diet, an individually selected balanced menu. There are much fewer requirements for food consumed by amateur athletes. But nevertheless there are, although not everyone knows about them.

So, you go to the gym from work, and after a workout you refuse to eat, thinking that this will help you consolidate the results of your workouts. Are you doing the right thing? Let's figure it out.

A competent diet for those who work out in the gym depends, among other things, on the time of training and its type - cardio or strength. First of all, pay attention to what you eat before class.

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Pre-workout nutrition

In order to be vigorous during sports, not to fall asleep, not to fall down from fatigue, you should start exercising, stocking up on energy, that is, carbohydrates. Exercising on an empty stomach is not recommended. A hungry body is considered to be an organism that has not received food for 8 hours. If you work out in the morning, eat oatmeal, banana, muesli bar, drink tea with honey 40-60 minutes before the start of the workout. Food should contain complex carbohydrates; chocolate, cookies and other sweets are prohibited. If you work out during the day or in the evening, start training 1.5–2 hours after eating. There are no special instructions in this case, provided that you eat wisely - do not eat fatty, spicy, salty, sweets, fast food.

Exercising on an empty stomach is permissible only in the case of aerobic training, which include walking, running, swimming, dancing, figure skating, some team sports, and yoga.

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Post-workout nutrition

During sports, glucose is consumed first, then glycogen (so-called reserve carbohydrates), and just after that - adipose tissue. Therefore, after training, the main thing is to restore blood glucose levels. If you have been doing cardio, the best solution is to have a snack 10-15 minutes after your workout. That is, you do not pounce on food in the locker room, but you do not wait until you return home. You can safely take a shower, get dressed, and then drink freshly squeezed juice, smoothies, and take fruits (apples, pears, kiwi are suitable). If you do not eat for several hours after a workout, then slow down the metabolic processes in the body.

If your goal is to lose weight, then after a carbohydrate snack, you can stop eating for a couple of hours. Your body will burn its own fats. 

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If you are doing strength training, then within an hour after training, you need to eat food with a high protein content. Some experts argue that during this period of time the so-called metabolic window rule operates - a period of active tissue repair and protein synthesis. A protein shake is a good idea for the best snack. It can be replaced with egg whites, chicken breasts, and lean fish. However, in no case after a workout, do not take dairy products, such as low-fat kefir or cottage cheese. 

It turns out that after any workout in the gym you need to eat something containing carbohydrates or proteins - depending on your goals and type of activity. It should be a light snack. When you get home, you can have a full dinner. Why you shouldn't skip snacking? Because after a workout, you can linger on the road, and when you come home, get distracted by household chores. As a result, eating will be delayed, the body will not receive the substances it needs, and thus the benefits of exercise will be minimized. 

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Which foods can you eat right after exercising?

Men and women will benefit from the following foods after a workout:

  1.  Lean meat - veal, turkey, chicken, rabbit meat.
  2.  Sea or river fish. 
  3. Boiled chicken eggs.
  4.  Low-fat cottage cheese or cheese. 
  5. Asparagus.
  6.  Nuts, seeds, dried fruits. 
  7. Porridge from any cereal - oatmeal, buckwheat, barley, corn. 
  8. Pasta from durum wheat (you should not get carried away with them).
  9.  Sweet freshly squeezed berry juice. 
  10. Healthy sweets - dark chocolate, apple marshmallow, honey. Bread or crispbread with the addition of bran. 
  11. Sweet fruits, including citrus fruits. 
  12. Baked vegetables or vegetable mixture - potatoes, sweet peppers, zucchini, cucumbers.
  13. Mate tea. 

Be healthy, be sporty!

Photo by Yilmaz Akin on Unsplash

Julia Stecher is an award-winning fitness model, professional nutritionist, and certified personal trainer who provides personal training services in Zurich and online.

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