What to eat before and after HIIT?
by our trainer Zella
For the past 10 days the online support of workouts at home has been extensive. Small fitness equipment such as kettlebells, floormats, dumbbells and steps are getting out of stock by popular demand. But not to worry if this material is not available to you. There are several bodyweight-HIIT-cardio workouts that don’t require anything than just a couple of square meters of space. (see my post of last week, Total Bodyweight-HIIT Circuit)
HIIT stands for High Intensity Interval Training. This type of training involves moving quickly between (intense) cardio, bodyweight exercises (and with/without weighted/resistance exercises). The combination of these movements and the quick shifts between the exercises elevates your heart rate and will get your muscles to work hard.
In stressful times like this a HIIT workout can be very satisfying, blowing of some steam and within 30-45 minutes work yourself into sweat.
If you’ve been putting in the effort to ‘HIIT at Home’ a couple of times a week, getting the best results of your workout is the part where nutrition can play its role.
With HIIT your body needs both energy and nutrients to perform and recuperate, so lets take a closer look at what to eat before and after your workout.
What to eat before a HIIT workout
Ideal is a small snack 30-45 minutes before, with a proper balance of some carbohydrates (and a bit of healthy fats) that will boost your energy level plus some lean protein to preserve your muscle mass while working out.
It’s okay if your snack contains some form of simple carbs (I like to call them ‘simple clean carbs’*), that are digested faster and provide quick energy, such as a bit of dried fruits, half a banana or 50 grams of berries. Combined with some complex carbohydrates (the ones that take longer to digest and therefor release energy over a longer amount of time) and some healthy fats will keep your energy level in tact throughout the training.
Some examples of pre-workout snacks:
2 rice crackers with some hummus and chicken filet
150 grams of Greek yoghurt (or kwark) with 20 grams of unsalted nuts and 50 grams of mixed berries
2 (hard/medium) boiled eggs with 30 grams mixed nuts-dried fruits
Half a banana and 1 rice cracker with peanut butter
What to eat after a HIIT workout
Now, it’s time to replenish the energy used and recover those muscles!
Skipping out on post workout nutrition could have consequences that include fatigue, increased soreness and low blood sugar levels which can result in dizziness and other symptoms.
Ideal post-workout nutrition is a larger meal (such as breakfast, lunch or dinner depending on the workout time of the day) that includes lean protein with healthy fats to build and repair the muscle tissue, allowing the body to recover more quickly, plus complex carbohydrates to replenish energy and fuel stores. For optimal recovery consume your post-workout meal within 30-60 minutes after your workout.
A few ideas for post-workout meals:
Tuna cakes with a mixed salad (recipe will follow later this week, so stay tuned!)
Egg white omelette with veggies and a slice of whole grain toast
Chicken salad with some whole grain penne, mixed lettuce, raw veggies, half of a (small!) avocado and a little bit of low fat/low sugar dressing
Two slices of whole grain bread with some chicken or roast beef and a few thin slices of avocado on top.
Don’t forget…hydration is the key
While eating right before and after a workout is important you can’t forget to hydrate. As we sweat we lose fluids that should be replenished following a workout, but drinking enough water before and during your session is just as important.
Zella van der Toorn Vrijthoff
Team Fitness USC Leiden
*‘Simple clean carbs’ as being part of the eat-clean principle explained in my post last week on Eating Clean and Being Creative.