Exercise and eating: these are two things that you know are closely tied. But how do they actually fit together and how do you make their teamwork support your plans? On gym days, it's especially important to know how healthy eating plays into your fitness goals.
Use these insights to put together your gym day diet protocol:
Healthy Eating Basics
Whether it's gym day or not, you've got to know the basics of healthy eating to give your body what it needs for everyday life. Remind yourself of these principles:
- Eating gives you calories, which your body converts to energy
- Foods are made up of three main nutrients called macronutrients: carbs, protein, and fat
- You need a balance of these nutrients (sometimes called macro ratios) to stay healthy
- Whole foods and natural foods, like meats, whole grains, veggies, and fruits, offer the main nutrients you need
- Some foods are "empty," meaning the nutrients they give you don't actually do anything for your body, so they don't count as healthy
When to Eat on Gym Days
You have to eat to have the energy for everyday life, so just think about what happens when you work out! When you exercise, your body uses up more energy, so you need to give it more fuel. That's why it's especially important to eat healthily at smart times on gym days.
You Need to Eat Pre-Workout
In order for your body to have energy available to use while you exercise, you need to eat pre-workout. This is true even in the morning. Without fresh fuel, you won’t be able to give your workout your best effort.
You Need to Eat Post-Workout
After your workout, your body keeps burning calories at a higher rate. That means you need food. Workouts also break down muscle, so your body needs protein after exercise to build muscle back up.
You Need to Eat Throughout the Day
To function the rest of the day on gym day, it’s best to stick to small meals that are spread out.
What to Eat Pre-Workout
Some of what you ought to eat pre-workout depends on your fitness goal and the type of exercise you are doing. For example, if you’re doing HIIT, you should eat light and clean foods.
What to Eat Post-Workout
Once your workout is over, what you need to eat (and how much) will still depend on your goals. If you are trying to build muscle, for instance, it’s important to get lean protein within a few hours of strength training.
Planning Your Gym Day Diet
On top of depending on your goals and style of workout, you can narrow down what is best to eat on gym days based on your body type. Then, develop a plan! It’s way too easy to dream big and then not follow through when you’re tired or busy on gym days.
Download this FREE Custom Meal Planning Guide to refine your strategy.