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How to fit food around your workout (and do it right)

October 20, 2021 2 min read

You’re ready. Well, almost ready.
Dusted off gym gear (was it that long ago?). Workout app installed (play button at the ready). Mustered up motivation (just about).

There’s now only one thing missing.

To try and make sense of the mountain of info surrounding food and fitness timing, just so you can answer the burning questions:

When’s a good time to eat around my workout and what’s the best thing to eat?

We know how confusing the world of nutrition and fitness can be. But luckily there are steps you can follow to make sure that you’re getting the most out of your energy level, mood and results. And we’re going to show you how.

Carbs and protein: the pre-workout perfect match
It’s fair to say that carbs have a bad rep with some people, but the fact of the matter is - you need them. They give you energy and the more you exercise the more energy you will need. According to Heart UK carbs are split into three main groups; sugar, starch and fibre. As a general rule you should avoid sugary carbs, limit the starchy kind and eat more fibrous ones (like whole grains, quinoa, vegetables etc).

For optimal workout performance you should eat a mix of carbs and protein that are simple to digest. The body needs protein to ‘prime the pump’ and get your muscles ready, while carbs fuel the muscles during the workout.

You need to avoid eating straight before a workout to give your body the chance to work its magic. Make sure you leave at least an hour after eating.

Fuel your recovery with protein
A protein snack is a great way to end a workout. Protein is made up of amino acids that act like building blocks for the body. If you eat protein right away after exercising it will give your muscles all the ammunition it needs to repair and rebuild - all the while getting you ready for your next workout.

Some ideas to try...

  • COAN Biltong
  • Peanut butter and banana toast
  • Turkey and salad wrap
  • Protein bar
  • Cottage cheese and rice cakes
  • Nuts such as almonds or pistachios
  • While you're at it, why not check out our biltong recipe tricks?

Timing matters
Pre-workout: Ideally you should fuel your workout 1-4 hours before you begin (depending on your metabolism), this will give the body the time it needs to work its magic.

Post-workout: Getting protein into your body quickly post-workout is super important (no more than 45 minutes is ideal), so arm yourself with an easy high-protein snack for maximum ease.

You might find that you need to experiment with timings and decide what suits your body best, as everyone works in different ways.

Key takeaways

  • Don’t hate on (good) carbs. Combine them with protein at least an hour before your workout for best results.
  • Protein is your fuel for recovery and your muscles’ friend. Try to eat some as soon as possible after a workout.
  • There is no one size fits all with all this, as all of our bodies are different. If you can, try out what works best for you. Then you’ll be well on your way to feeling energised, with a body that’s happy, healthy and ready for the next round.