High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is no fad. This form of exercise has been around for a long time, even though it’s gone by different names. There’s a reason the method sticks around- it works! People love their HIIT workout because it actually helps with weight loss and muscle strengthening. Plus it’s quick.
But here’s the thing: if you aren’t eating right before and after your HIIT workout, you probably aren’t reaping all the benefits you can.
What is a HIIT Workout?
There are a ton of different HIIT workouts to choose from. Some are simple, others are advanced workouts. Fitness newbies, weight loss warriors, and bodybuilders all benefit from HIIT.
The basic idea behind HIIT is to alternate quickly through intervals of intense exercise. For example, a HIIT routine may involve going from extreme cardio stepping, to bodyweight exercises, and then back again. Throughout a HIIT workout, your heart rate is elevated and your muscles work hard.
Why Does HIIT Nutrition Matter?
“Intensity” is a vital component of any true HIIT regimen. As a result, people lose weight fast and gain muscle rapidly. The body has to work really hard- and that’s really good for you!
But it also means your body needs energy and needs nutrients to recuperate. Nutrition matters when you’re doing HIIT because the intensity can cause muscle loss if your body doesn’t have the nutrients to handle it.
What Nutrients are Best Pre-HIIT?
Before you kickstart your body with HIIT, you need fuel. The goal is to have energy, but not a heavy stomach. It’s smart to snack or eat light, clean foods before HIIT. Avoid sugars and fattening foods that can slow you down or cause an energy crash. Instead, go for a blend of slow-burning carbs and protein:
- Low-sugar protein bars
- Fruit and grain based bread
- Healthy cereal
- Protein supplements
What Nutrients are Needed Post-HIIT?
Once you’re dripping sweat after HIIT, it’s no surprise that your body is depleted. Experts say you have a 1-2 hour window after HIIT to refuel so that your body can rebuild those muscles you want to grow.
The muscle repair that takes place after a workout is fueled in part by macronutrients like those found in carb-heavy foods. Of course, muscle is actually built by protein. A combination of nutrient-rich carbs and lean protein is best after HIIT for muscle repair and growth.
Recommended post-HIIT foods include:
- Quinoa or healthy grains
- Protein shakes
- Lean meat like chicken or fish
- Protein supplements
Whereas snacks or light meals are best pre-workout, generally regular healthy meals are ideal for post-workout refueling.
Supplements or “Real” Food?
HIIT is a favorite for people who are busy or who are trying to lose weight. So it’s not surprising if you want your pre and post workout diet to be quick and easy. Protein supplements can make getting your essential nutrients more convenient. For example, dotFit offers a variety of health and fitness focused supplements.
Fueling for energy during your workout and refueling for muscle repair afterward is the secret to being successful at HIIT. So obviously you’ll still need to eat “real” foods, like the kind you chew. But supplements are smart for supplementing your diet to ensure your body has what it needs, when you need it.
You can learn more about fueling your body to meet fitness goals with our FREE Bodybuilders Nutrition Guide.