Pic: Stephen Davis Phillips
Whether you're a fitness fanatic, trying to lose weight, or just looking to lead a healthier lifestyle, regular exercise is a must. But what you eat before and after your gym session could make the world of difference to your energy levels, and post-workout recovery, so check out these before and after superfoods and give your workout a benefit boost.
'Go to work on an egg', advised the old TV ad, but you could do worse than go to workout on an egg. Rich in protein, not to mention vitamins D, A, and B2, they're a nutrient-packed marvel to boost your energy levels.
If your usual workout time is later in the day, a tuna salad for lunch will give you protein for energy but without carbs weighing you down. Add leafy greens like spinach to the mix for extra minerals and enzymes that could help you to lose fat.
Eat two bananas half an hour before you hit the gym and you'll be ready for a 90-minute workout, as the digestible carbs, natural sugars and potassium work their magic on your energy levels and keep blood-sugar levels stable.
Perfect for runners planning a cold winter's morning jog, this complex carb is your slow-release energy friend. It's low in fat and sugar, high in fibre and B vitamins. Add some fresh fruit to keep you hydrated.
Another healthy carb to boost your energy levels while keeping your blood sugar levels balanced, a small bowl of oatmeal or wholegrain cereal, with added fruit for vitamins and sweetness, will also keep hunger at bay.
High in fibre and protein, lentils are also a source of sustained carbohydrate release, meaning you'll have plenty of energy for a serious workout. The protein is ideal for obtaining a leaner, firmer figure, and of course, they're perfect for vegetarians.
A quick and easy way to fuel your body ahead of a trip to the gym, smoothies have the advantage of being flexible with regards to what you put in them. Oats and banana will provide you with slow-release energy, while added fresh berries provide the vitamins and fibre your body needs to stay in tip-top condition. You can always change it up a bit by adding seeds and/or nuts for an added protein hit.
After a high-intensity workout, you need a rapid recovery food, and nuts are built for the job. Packed with healthy fat and protein, mix nuts with dried fruit to bring your glycogen levels back up so that you've got energy stored for the next time you hit the gym.
The natural sugars and carbohydrates in yoghurt are rapidly absorbed by the body, which helps to speed up recovery, while protein aids muscle repair after a workout. Go for the natural variety and add fruit for added vitamins.
Protein is a must after a good workout, as the amino acids help to repair any muscle damage. With a lean protein, all the vital substances are digested more easily than in red meat, making it a quick and easy way to recovery.
For the ideal post-workout meal, you need a balance of protein and carbs, and pasta, being quick to cook and cheap into the bargain, can be mixed with any manner of protein-rich foods for a fast repair and recovery meal. Add veggies like broccoli or spinach for an iron boost, or lean protein to keep muscles fit and well.
A superfood on any day, a handful of blueberries after your workout will give your body powerful antioxidants that will aid repair of any exercise-related damage, while their low glycemic index means you won't get a sugar rush that leads to a dramatic slump.
Sweet potato and salmon
Once again, carbs and proteins combine for perfect post-workout food. The sweet potato will restore glycogen levels and provide a slow release of energy to keep you going for the rest of the day. The lean protein of salmon will work to repair muscles, and there's the added benefit of bioactive peptides, which reduce inflammation and keep joints in good order.
You might be gasping for a glass of H2O or a sports drink, but there's a lot to be said for drinking the white stuff post workout too. Containing carbs and proteins to strengthen and repair muscles, the calcium also helps to break down fat and reduce the fat stored.
What do you eat before and after a workout? Leave your comments below...