One of my clients recently asked me, “How do I navigate pre- and post-workout nutrition on a plant-based diet without adding too many extra calories into my day?"
Here’s my answer:
Once you’ve built a foundation of healthy, mostly whole foods eating, you can start thinking about specific pre- and post-workout nutrition needs. Master the basics, then start thinking about the details.
Pre- and post-workout nutrition changes depending on the type of workout you’re doing (and regardless of whether you’re plant-based). For a cardio workout, focus on getting some healthy complex carbs an hour or so before your workout (I have oatmeal every morning before training), plus a bit of easy-to-digest protein, like soy yogurt or hemp hearts. After cardio, replenish with a meal or snack that includes both protein and carbs (e.g. apple slices with nut butter, almond yogurt with low-sugar granola, banana with a handful of nuts).
For resistance workouts, focus on protein. Protein is the building block of muscle! Before strength training, you want to get both carbs and protein, like before a cardio workout. This ensures you’ll have enough energy to get through your training session. After strength training, you’ll want to focus on good quality protein, plus carbs. It can be as simple as a PB&J on whole wheat! Or how about a smoothie made with protein powder, non-dairy milk (e.g almond, flax, hemp, soy), and fruit?
Pre- and post-workout nutrition don’t necessarily add calories to your diet. If you time your meals right, you don’t really need to make any calorie changes at all. For example, I have oatmeal every morning and work out an hour later. Right after my workout I’ll have a second breakfast (usually flax waffles with peanut butter plus a fruit/hemp heart/flax seed/chia seed smoothie). I’d be eating these meals anyway, I just happen to time them around my workouts.
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