When it comes to getting the most out of your workout, your diet is almost as important as the workout itself. Your body uses food to fuel itself through a workout session; with the right fuel, your body will burn fat and carve sleek, toned muscle. Just like your car, which will perform differently depending on the type of gas you use, eating certain types of food can boost the results you get from working out.
Before You Work Out
Skip the low-carb craze if you really want to see results -- carbs are the body's main source of fuel. Fitness experts recommend you "feed" your workout by eating carbohydrates with a little protein about an hour before you exercise.
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Michelle Tavick, a certified personal trainer for Bally's Total Fitness, agrees that eating carbohydrates before exercising is essential. "In general, something with more carbohydrates than protein and fat is good before you work out because carbs put glycogen (muscle sugar) into your muscles, and your body uses that during the workout for energy," she says.
After You Work Out
For about an hour after an exercise session, there's a window of opportunity to feed your starving muscles -- this is known as the "golden hour" because it's the time your muscles are most hungry for nutrients. Your body will use the meal you eat during the "golden hour" to repair and carve muscle.
To do this, your body needs protein and some carbs. "After the workout, having protein powder in juice is good because you have the carbohydrates that will help carry the protein to the muscles more efficiently," Tavick says.
Before you start an exercise regimen, be sure to stock up on these superfoods for your workout:
Keep a dozen eggs in your fridge -- they're loaded with protein. And do eat the yolk. Nutrition experts say that while the yolk contains cholesterol, it's only in trace amounts -- not enough to drive up your levels. Plus, the yolk is filled with nutrients.
Potatoes are one of the best sources of carbohydrates around. You'll get about 30 grams of carbs in a 4-ounce potato. Skip the fatty extras and boost antioxidant levels by topping it with a spoonful of salsa.
Chicken is packed with protein and has roughly 35 grams for a 4-ounce breast. Opt for grilled or baked chicken instead of fried and peel off the fatty skin.