If you go to the gym three to five times a week, chances are you also watch what you eat. Eating and exercise go hand in hand; eating healthy and working out often equals amazing results. However, eating poorly and working out may not be the best for you. You can work out more than most people, you could be a varsity athlete, but if you find yourself constantly eating junk food, you may find yourself facing worse problems than weight gain.
The body you have now is going to be the body you have for the rest of your life. It will change; there will be times you are made of muscle and eating Pop-tarts everyday, and there will be times where you are eating salads for every meal and still seeing stubborn body fat. While we should embrace body positivity and love who we are on the inside as opposed to the outside, we as human beings still care about our eating and exercise habits.
Whether you are new to exercise or racking on the largest weights at the gym, there are always going to be unanswered questions that go through your mind before, during and after your workout: why am I so tired today? What should I eat after my workout? What should I eat before my workout? Here are a couple of answers to some of the questions you ask in your head:
Q: If I am going to eat poorly, shouldn’t I eat poorly before I work out?
A: No. Don’t worry, there is a scientific explanation behind this. Directly after your workout, your body is still working to burn off what you just did. Your body is also trying to recover from what you just did, so it is important to eat something after your workout, even if it is unhealthy. If you’re going out to indulge in some sweet treats with your friends after you work out, it’s not a huge concern. Your body will burn that food right up! Just don’t make a habit of it.
Q: Should I eat before a workout?
A: Of course! You need that fuel to be able to work hard at the gym. However, don’t indulge in something too filling, because a full stomach might prohibit you from being able to jump or run. If you choose not to eat before a workout, chances are you will not perform as well because hunger causes people to feel faint, especially if we are exerting energy. One of the best snacks to have right before a workout is peanut butter. Just one scoop has over 200 calories and 6 grams of protein, so it’ll keep you active and lively throughout your workout without causing you to feel too full.
Q: What’s the deal with protein shakes? Should I be drinking them or no?
A: As a vegetarian, protein shakes are a godsend to me. It gives me that boost of protein I am missing by not consuming meat. However, they are not always necessary, even for people who do not eat meat. Most weight trainers often have a protein shake post-workout, which is one of the best ways to go because the protein will replenish your muscles and help you gain muscle. However, if you focus mostly on cardio and endurance at the gym, you are better off having a snack after your workout as opposed to a protein shake, like avocado toast or a smoothie.