You may ask yourself: Should I eat before? Should I wait until after? The truth is, many of the decisions you make surrounding the actions you take directly before and after a workout ultimately come down to preference, what works best for you and what results you’re trying to achieve. To answer those two questions, fasting for a workout can provide certain benefits while fueling your body beforehand ensures you have the proper energy to complete the workout. There’s no hard and fast pre- and post-workout rule that works for everyone. However, there are specific measures you can take to protect yourself from injuries, boost motivation, improve form and perfect execution.
- Grab a snack. Don’t ignore your body’s need for fuel. Eating a snack an hour or so before you exercise allows you to have the energy to power through. But be careful not to eat too much! You don’t want to go into your workout with a full belly.
- Hydrate. Prepare your body for all of the water it’s going to lose via sweat by properly hydrating before your workout. This can also help with muscle cramps and dizziness and keep your energy levels in check.
- Wear proper attire. There’s nothing worse than starting your workout and realizing you’re not comfortable. Ensure you’re wearing the right clothes and footwear that allow you to run, jump, stretch and get into the necessary positions for your workout.
- Warm-up. This step is often overlooked but crucial for getting the most out of your workout. Along with preventing injury, warming up gives your body the opportunity to raise your body temperature and increase your range of motion to produce the best possible workout results.
- Stretch. Like warming up, stretching is a vital element of the workout process that is so often overlooked. It allows your body to return to a resting state and has been found to be beneficial for joint mobility.
- Refuel. While you may forgo a pre-workout snack, ensuring you are replenishing your body with nutritious food and water after a workout is essential for helping you recover. Opt for foods higher in carbs and protein to restock glycogen stores and repair muscles.
- Swap your clothing. Regardless of how busy the rest of your day might be, getting out of wet workout clothing as soon as you can help deter the growth of yeast, fungus and bacteria, which can lead to infection. If you’re in a rush, at the very least change undergarments.
- Take a cool shower. While ice baths aren’t necessary, taking a shower at a cooler temperature than normal can increase healing processes while also decreasing muscle inflammation. This helps ensure you’re ready when it’s time to take on your next workout.