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updated: 11/28/2011 4:15 PM

Nutrition a must before and after exercising

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  • A protein shake before and after exercise can make your workout more effective.

    A protein shake before and after exercise can make your workout more effective.


A great workout starts with great nutrition. The positive stress from strength training builds muscle and burns fat, but the negative stress can actually cause more harm than good if you're not properly fueled.

Pre- and post-workout nutrition is a must if you want to maximize results and overall health. Pre-workout nutrition gives your body the fuel and nutrients it needs to get through the activity of the workout. Post-workout nutrition gives your body the fuel and nutrients it needs to repair and recover from the effects of the workout.

The following tips will keep you performing at your absolute best.

Don't overlook the importance of water. If you're dehydrated, your workout performance will suffer and you will feel exhausted. Dehydration increases your chances for headaches and head rushes, muscle cramps, nausea and poor overall performance -- not the recipe for a healthy workout. Try drinking half your body weight in ounces of water a day. So if you weigh 160 pounds, you need 80 ounces of clean filtered water daily.

• Timing of calories and nutrients before and after each workout is key. A pre-workout snack should be consumed about 30 to 90 minutes prior to your workout depending on the complexity of the food consumed. A meal or snack will take more time to digest than a simple liquid shake. A post-workout snack should be consumed immediately after or up to 45 minutes after the workout is completed. Your body is a sponge during this time and has already begun the recovery process -- so nutrient ingestion is a must.

• The types of foods consumed will affect your results. A great option for pre- and post-workout nutrition is to bracket your workouts with a simple liquid shake. Add the following ingredients to a shaker bottle: 3 ounces of orange juice, 3 to 6 ounces of coconut water, 1 scoop of whey or egg protein and a tablespoon of flax oil. This will ensure simple carbs for energy, electrolytes, protein for muscle repair and healthy fats to combat inflammation. Another option could be two hard-boiled eggs and a piece of fruit. The goal is to get a balance of healthy macronutrients, but not to consume so much that you feel bloated or too heavy.

• Listen to your body. If you're feeling weak or you find yourself shaking or you sometimes have a headache during your workouts, chances are your blood sugar is too low. Try changing the timing and types of foods you're eating before your workouts so you feel more energetic. If your stomach feels bloated during your workouts, you may have to lighten your snack or allow more time for digestion. If you feel ravenous after your workouts, ensure that you're getting enough sustenance in your post-workout snack and that you're consuming it as soon as your workout is complete.

So prepare yourself for a great workout and feel the difference it makes. For more nutrition tips, visit

• Joshua Steckler and Mark Trapp are co-owners of Push Fitness, a personal training studio in Schaumburg specializing in weight loss, muscle toning and nutrition. Contact them at

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