The fitness craze has been amazing to watch unfold over the past few years. “Boutique fitness studios” have become all the rage, at least here in New York City, where $34 gets you an hour-long class that you will end up being obsessed with (and then you’ll cry when you see your bank account get punished for it). Not only are there endless bootcamp, barre, yoga and running studios out there to choose from, but there has been a drastic increase in the number of fitness apparel companies popping up. Lululemon and Nike aren’t the only players in the game anymore; Fabletics, Carbon38 and Athleta are all making huge strides in the fitness fashion world, introducing crazy printed tights and elevating the boring racerback tank top.
So here you are, dressed to kill [your workout] and on trend with your fitness routine, but there is one missing piece: your pre and post workout meals. Sure, you can look great while you workout, but fueling your body properly before and replenishing afterwards is what will make you a fitness all-star.
I joined Equinox this January along with the rest of the resolutioners (but I’m proud to stay I still work out 3-4 times a week!) and getting into a routine has been super helpful. I’ve been running for about two and a half years and decided to step up my gym game. I started tracking how many calories I burn each class (I love their Studio Cycling and Precision Running classes) and then make sure that I replenish my body with smart choices afterwards depending on the number of calories I burn. If I’m burning a lot of calories, then I’ll treat myself to a larger post-workout meal to help replenish nutrients back into my body.
My pre-workout meals really depend on the activity that I will be doing. Bananas are easy to eat on the go and are an incredible source of energy. I not only like eating them before I workout, but afterwards as well. BelVita breakfast biscuits are also a great source of energy and they are easy to digest before a big race. I tend to be super nervous before I run a race, so my appetite is very minimal; BelVita biscuits are really tasty and I can eat them while on my way to the start line. Peanut Butter is a great pre-workout meal if you know you are going to be exerting yourself for an extended period of time. Not only is it a good source of energy, but it has protein as well. I like to eat peanut butter on a whole wheat english muffin or multigrain toast before a long run or an intense boot camp.
Finally, the most important pre-workout ingredient is water. Staying hydrated is life-changing. Along with my resolution to join a gym, I decided that I needed to stay on top of my water consumption each day; because I had very little energy throughout the day and would skip going to the gym before work. I use a glass Camelback 24 ounce water bottle and make sure I consume 4-5 bottles of water a day. The Mayo Clinic has a nice article about how much water you should drink, but the 8 glasses of water (8 oz each) is a solid rule of thumb.
It is super important to replenish your body properly after a workout. I have read in a number of articles that chocolate milk is one of the best things that you can drink due to the protein, carbohydrates, water content and even for the sodium and sugar that it has. Now, I’m lactose intolerant so chugging chocolate milk after a workout is not my idea of beneficial, so I drink tons of water or a gatorade (especially after a race!). My favorite meals are overnight oatmeal (see my previous Mavenly + Co post here for recipe) or two hard-boiled eggs with a little salt and pepper. As a special treat after an intense workout, I’ll get one of Starbuck’s Spinach and Feta Breakfast Wraps.
At only 290 calories, it is a delicious meal that has 19 grams of protein. Lastly, I know a number of people who swear by drinking a protein shake (such as Shakeology) after their workouts. While I don’t disagree with this at all, I just don’t see the need to spend an exorbitant amount of money on protein powder when I can get protein in other ways, such as Peanut Butter and Banana or hard-boiled eggs. If you have the room in your budget for it however, then go for it!
When it comes down to it, the important thing to remember is to provide your body with the adequate amount of fuel before your workout, and that includes staying hydrated. Afterwards, reward yourself with something of more substance that will replenish your body with nutrients and help you recover from the incredible workout you just had. If you’re burning a lot of calories, don’t be afraid to have a delicious breakfast wrap or even a bagel. Carbohydrates never hurt anybody!
So, Mavens, I challenge you to incorporate a delicious and healthy pre and post workout meal into your routine. Then, put on your loud and crazy tights, grab your chic gym bag and go kick that workout’s butt.