Cardio is demanding so you need to be sure you are properly fueled before and after your workout. Your fitness goal will determine what it is that you need to eat and drink. The one thing that’s common across the board, however, is when you should eat.
Regardless of whether you are trying to lose fat, build muscle or gain endurance, it is important that you eat 60 to 90 minutes before your workout. If you do not eat anything, you will not have enough energy to properly workout. Likewise, cardio on a full stomach is no fun for obvious reasons. A 60 to 90 minute window is the ideal amount of time for you to have energy, but not be uncomfortable.
The best thing you can do before your workout is have a piece or two of fruit like oranges or apples. If fruit is not your thing, then go for some carrots or cucumbers. If you are planning on a long session then you may want to add a glass of milk, an egg, a slice cheese, or some other sources of protein which helps fuel lengthy workouts.
During the first hour after you have finished your workout, your body is primed for nutrient intake to help fuel your recovery. If you are purely trying to lose fat, then you want to keep the carbs low or completely absent. Protein shakes are a good idea or a salad topped with some chicken because this will provide the essential vitamins and minerals necessary to rebuild your muscles.
Build Muscle Mass
If you want to have the most success building your muscles then throughout the day you will want your calories to be divided into forty percent carbohydrates, thirty percent fat and thirty percent protein.
Timing is the most important thing. You still will want to keep your meals fairly light before cardio. One of the best breakfasts you can eat is a combination of oats, cranberries, protein powder, and almonds because it contains everything you need for energy.
The sixty minute recovery window is where you will want to load up on your carbohydrates because your body will need fast acting fuel and this is when you want to eat your breads, pasta, rice and so on. On the other hand, when it is significantly after your workout then it is a good time to have a protein centered meal.
This is particularly important for people interested in competing in races or those just trying to increase their stamina. If you have a big competition coming up what you need to do is test out what you will eat before and after the workout to see how you will be affected. You want to be ready for game day and know exactly which foods give you the most energy and which make you sluggish.
The Night Before
High carb, low fiber meal. You can eat your pasta, here, but don’t overdo it. Balance is key and make sure you have plenty of protein for longer last fuel.
Small is again the keyword as well as high in carbohydrates something like a bagel with peanut butter and a piece of fruit is right on point. If you a running a long race then you will want a sports drink to help maintain your energy level.
Hydration is important for any kind of cardio, but in endurance training it is essential. You need to make sure you fully replenish anything you sweat out. It is also been proven that drinking cherry juice twice a day can help your recover faster and lessen muscle damage.
Your Cardio, Your Way
What works for one person might not work for another. At the end of the day, just try to keep it simple. Throw out the sodas and candy and avoid salty snacks while you head for more natural foods that have a better balance of protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats.
The best thing you can do is experiment and see what boosts your energy and what leaves you feeling tired. Any way you do it, as long as you get out there and start moving then you are off to a great start!