When it comes to working out, nutrition plays a vital role in achieving your fitness goals. Whether you're hitting the gym for strength training or going for a long run, the fitness meals that you eat before and after your workout can make a significant difference in your performance and recovery. Read on to explore the world of fitness meals and discover some healthy options to fuel your workouts.
How to plan your fitness meals:
The first thing to think about with any diet is getting the right macros. When it comes to fitness, getting enough protein is essential for muscle repair, growth, and recovery. But it’s not the only thing that’s important! Here are some guidelines on your macro targets:
Protein: For active people, you should aim to eat over 1.5g of protein per kilo of body weight in a day. So that means if you weigh 80 kilos you should get over 120g of protein on your workout days. Good sources of protein include lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products, legumes, and plant-based proteins like tofu and tempeh.
Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates are the primary source of energy for your body, especially during high-intensity workouts. Opt for complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes for sustained energy as these will help prevent a post-workout slump. Although for some sports a higher glucose snack can help give you a temporary performance boost. You can use our guide to figure out how many calories per day you need.
Healthy Fats: While carbohydrates are the primary energy source during workouts, healthy fats play an important role in providing sustained energy and supporting overall health. Include sources of unsaturated fats like avocados, nuts, seeds, olive oil, and fatty fish such as salmon or mackerel. If you’re following a low-carb or keto diet, then your body can also burn these fats for energy instead of carbohydrates.
Remember, the quality of macronutrients is as important as the quantity. Avoid processed foods to ensure you're obtaining a wide range of essential nutrients along with your macros. Eating a varied and balanced diet, coupled with regular exercise, will help you achieve your fitness goals.
Great fitness foods to help prep for the gym:
Here are some excellent food choices to consider before hitting the gym:
Oats: Start your day with a bowl of oats. They provide a slow release of carbohydrates, keeping you energized throughout your workout. Additionally, oats are packed with fibre, which aids in digestion and helps you feel fuller for longer.
Greek Yogurt: Rich in protein, Greek yogurt is an ideal pre-workout snack. It provides the necessary amino acids for muscle repair and growth. If you’re on the go, you can also add yoghurt to a protein shake or smoothie.
Bananas: This humble fruit is a powerhouse of nutrients. Bananas are a great source of natural sugars, which provide instant energy for before a workout. They also contain potassium, an electrolyte that helps prevent muscle cramps during intense sessions.
Chicken Breast: If you prefer a more substantial meal before exercising, grilled chicken breast is an excellent option. It's lean, high in protein, and contains essential amino acids necessary for muscle recovery.
Fitness foods to avoid before working out:
While it's essential to know what to eat, it's also important to be aware of the foods you should avoid before and after your workouts. Here are some items that might hinder your performance:
Fried Foods: Foods high in unhealthy fats, such as french fries and fried chicken, are best avoided before a workout. They take longer to digest, potentially causing discomfort and sluggishness during exercise.
Sugary Drinks: Beverages like soda and energy drinks are loaded with added sugars that provide a temporary energy boost but can lead to a crash later. Opt for water or natural fruit juices before your workout so your energy doesn’t peak at the wrong moment.
Spicy Foods: While spices can add flavor to your meals, they may also cause digestive issues when consumed before exercise. Spicy foods can lead to heartburn or indigestion, making your workout uncomfortable.
3 healthy fitness meal ideas:
Now that we've covered the basics, let's dive into some delicious fitness meal ideas that will leave you satisfied and nourished. Eating well doesn't have to be bland or boring – it can be both nutritious and delicious. So, get creative and enjoy your fitness journey one meal at a time!
Grilled Salmon with Quinoa
This meal is a powerhouse of nutrients. Salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, and high in protein. Quinoa provides a good dose of protein and carbohydrates, while steamed vegetables add fibre and essential vitamins.
- 1 cup cooked quinoa
- 1 salmon fillet
- 1 cup mixed vegetables (e.g., bell peppers, zucchini, cherry tomatoes)
- 1 lemon
- 1 handful fresh parsley
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- 2 tsp low-salt soy sauce
- Preheat your pan and add the salmon skin down for around 2 minutes. Flip it over and cook for another minute until it all turns a lighter pink.
- In a separate pan, on a high heat, stir-fry your mixed vegetables with the sesame oil until soft
- In a bowl, create a bed of cooked quinoa, add the stir fried vegetables and then place the salmon on top.
- Top with the fresh parsley, juice the lemon across the whole dish and season with the soy sauce
Grilled Chicken with Sweet Potato and Steamed Broccoli
This is the perfect combination of a lean chicken breast for your protein fix, the slow-release energy of sweet potatoes and broccoli for healthy fibre and nutrients to get you gym ready.
- 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast
- 1 medium sweet potato
- 1 cup broccoli florets
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat your oven, using a grill setting.
- Season the chicken breast with salt, pepper, paprika and garlic powder.
- Grill the chicken breast for about 6-8 minutes on each side until fully cooked.
- While the chicken is grilling, peel and dice the sweet potato into bite-sized cubes.
- Steam the broccoli florets until tender, either in a steamer or by placing them in a colander over boiling water.
- In a separate pan, heat a drizzle of olive oil and sauté the sweet potato cubes until they are cooked through and slightly crispy.
- Serve the grilled chicken with the sweet potato and steamed broccoli on the side.
Chickpea and Vegetable Stir-Fry with Brown Rice
For our vegetarian friends, a veggie stir-fry is a fantastic choice. Load up on colorful vegetables like bell peppers, broccoli, carrots, and snap peas for plenty of nutrients. Chickpeas are a source of vegetarian protein and brown rice is high in energy and fibre.
- 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup mixed vegetables (e.g., carrots, bell peppers, snap peas)
- 1 small onion, sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce (or tamari for a gluten-free meal option)
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- Cooked brown rice
- Heat sesame oil in a large skillet or wok over medium heat.
- Add the sliced onion and minced garlic to the skillet and cook until the onion becomes translucent.
- Add the mixed vegetables and stir-fry for a few minutes until they are tender-crisp.
- Add the drained and rinsed chickpeas to the skillet and stir to combine.
- Pour the soy sauce over the mixture and continue stirring for another minute or two.
- Serve the chickpea and vegetable stir-fry over the bed of cooked brown rice.
You can also check out our other high protein dinner recipes.
Remember, everyone's nutritional needs vary, so it's important to listen to your body and make adjustments accordingly. Also what you drink can be just as important as what you eat, so always stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout your workout.
Need help with healthy fitness meals?
Fuelling your body with the right foods is essential for optimal performance and recovery but we don’t all have time to cook whole foods from scratch. That’s where Powermeals comes in! We deliver healthy, chef cooked meals direct to your door in a weekly box, anywhere in Switzerland. Check out our range of high protein meals.