The right nutrition is key to seeing results from your workouts. Whatever your goals are—weight loss, getting stronger or faster, or just feeling better—the kitchen is as important (if not more so) than the gym. So we asked Bob Harper, one of America’s top trainers and author of The Super Carb Diet, what he eats to feel better and energized for his workouts.
When Is the Best Time to Eat—Before or After a Workout?
Eating before your workout gives your body fuel to exercise. Waiting to eat until after your workout helps you replenish your stores. Depending on your schedule and lifestyle, you need to find which strategy works best for you.
Harper likes to wait to eat until after his early morning workout (CrossFit or yoga). “I have my first meal, which could be a nonfat Greek yogurt with fresh berries and a teaspoon of nut butter. I will add extra berries since I’m not likely to add any veggies to that meal.”
If you’re a morning exerciser and choose to eat breakfast first, Bob recommends eating your meal about an hour before your workout, “so you are burning maximum calories and being super-efficient in the gym.” You also want to give your body time to digest to minimize stomachaches and cramps.
What Should You Eat Before or After a Workout?
Working out is key on Harper’s Super Carb Diet plan. As he says, “Your time at the gym is going to supplement everything you do in the kitchen.”
So what should you be fueling up with before or after your workout? A good mix of super carbs and protein. People often think of protein as a “workout food” and leave out carbs. Your muscles run on carbs (in the stored form of glycogen) and protein helps rebuild muscle tissue that has broken down during your workout. You need both to fuel properly. No need to fear carbs. In The Super Carb Diet, Harper does a great job explaining that not all carbs are created equally. Choosing the right carbs means steadier blood sugar (no crazy spikes and dips), plus key nutrients like fiber, vitamins and minerals.
One thing Harper does not recommend—snacking.
“SNACKS!!!??? That is the new bad word in my world,” he says. “The Super Carb Diet is all about having three substantial meals and one floater meal. I want people to stay away from those small meals every couple of hours.” A floater meal is your “snack” for the day and it’s substantial—designed to keep you from mindlessly munching all day long.
Here are two of Bob’s Super Carb recipes from The Super Carb Diet to help you eat healthy before or after your workout.
Greek Yogurt Parfait
3/4 cup mixed berries
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon all-natural peanut butter
1. Mix fresh berries and cinnamon with Greek yogurt.
2. Top with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter.
Makes 1 serving.
Nutrition: 37 grams carbohydrates, 17 grams protein, 8 gram fat.
Bob’s Favorite Protein Drink
1 scoop vegan protein powder
1/2 frozen banana
1 tablespoon all-natural nut butter
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
2 ice cubes
Throw everything in a blender and ta-da!
Serving size: 8 ounces
Nutrition: 30 grams carbohydrate, 25 grams protein, 15 grams fat.