Maintaining a healthy exercise routine is just as important as what you put into your body.
This is especially true when engaging in strenuous cardio workouts, such as fat-burning, muscle-building HIIT exercise.
You want your gym efforts to pay off, which is only possible when you combine HIIT with proper pre and post-workout nutrition.
WHAT EXACTLY IS HIIT?
If you've never heard of high-intensity interval training (HIIT), you've come to the right place. HIIT, which stands for high-intensity interval training, is a highly effective way to improve your cardiovascular health while also gaining strength. Many people use HIIT to help them lose weight.
The structure of the workout is what distinguishes it as HIIT. You're probably used to hopping on a treadmill or riding a bike for as long as you can in order to burn calories or gain endurance. This is a type of cardio exercise known as steady-state cardio.
HIIT makes use of the power of intervals to encourage your maximum energy output in each movement, which has been shown to be more effective than steady-state cardio.
If you're used to working out nonstop for an hour or more, the concept of intervals may make you scratch your head.
A HIIT routine might include exercising for 45 seconds and then taking a 10-second break. You're working hard during those 45 seconds, so the workout is still very effective.
WHICH FOODS SHOULD YOU EAT BEFORE HIIT?
It is critical to remember that HIIT is high-intensity, which means it will most likely feel difficult and demanding. You run the risk of ending your session prematurely, exposing yourself to injury, and missing out on potential gains if you don't get enough nutrition and energy.
Carbohydrates play a much larger role than many people realize. Many diets have attempted to eliminate carbohydrates from our daily diets. While such a diet may produce some results in the beginning, severely restricting your carbohydrate intake does a great disservice to your training and overall bodily functions.
Carbohydrates are the primary source of energy in your body. They break down quickly and help protect your muscles from losing mass during demanding workouts like HIIT. Carbohydrates work best when combined with protein because it allows the body to process both carbs and protein more efficiently.
If you've been keeping up with gym trends, you've probably noticed how popular it is to eat sugary rice snacks before going to the gym. While this will undoubtedly give you an energy boost, it is probably not the best thing you could put in your body before a workout because it causes a spike in blood sugar levels.
Here are some carbohydrate sources to consider before an HIIT workout:
- Fruit is an excellent pre-workout snack. It's not only high in naturally occurring sugars that your body can use for quick energy, but it's also high in water. Fruit also contains antioxidants and vitamins that are necessary for bodily functions. Bananas are recommended for their potassium content, which aids in muscular function. Apples, grapes, blueberries, and strawberries are also options.
- Oats: Because they digest slowly, oats are a great source of energy. This means you'll have more energy for a longer period of time and will be less likely to crash during your workout. Oats are also filling, making them an excellent choice for those on a calorie restricted diet. Furthermore, because oats are so versatile, it's simple to incorporate them in new ways every day. Granola, oatmeal, oat bars, or oat cookies are all good options. Tip: For the perfect pre-HIIT snack, top your oats with fresh fruit.
- Whole Wheat Toast: Bread is a high-carbohydrate food that can be paired with a variety of other foods. However, avoid eating plain white bread, which is high in "empty" carbs and has little nutritional value. Consume whole wheat or whole grain bread because it is high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Those who are dehydrated are more likely to perform poorly in the gym, leaving them feeling defeated and confused. You fueled up with a healthy meal and listened to the best workout songs of all time, but your gym session was a disaster. Your water consumption is most likely to blame.
Staying hydrated is important not only throughout the day, but it also plays a significant role in getting the most out of your workouts. Dehydration is also dangerous, and it is more likely during strenuous workouts like HIIT. Fill up your water bottle and sip it on your way to the gym!
While all macronutrients are essential, protein may be the most important. This is not because it is more beneficial to the body than the other macronutrients, but rather because our daily diets are deficient in protein. As a result, we should strive to increase our protein intake,\.
Protein helps your body use carbohydrates without causing an energy crash, which is ideal for pre-workout meals. This is why your carbohydrate source should be accompanied by some protein.
Here are some good pre-HIIT protein sources:
- Low-fat Greek Yogurt: Greek yogurt is high in protein and low in calories, making it ideal for dieters. It also makes an excellent plain carbohydrate base. For the ideal pre-workout snack, combine granola and fruit.
- Eggs: Not only are eggs high in protein, but they are also a relatively light yet filling snack. Eggs contain all of the essential amino acids, making them an excellent source of protein. Another benefit is that they are high in healthy fat, which is essential for your brain and many other bodily functions. Furthermore, they pair well with a carbohydrate, such as whole-wheat bread.
- Chicken: If you need a heavier meal before working out, chicken is an excellent source of lean protein. The majority of people would serve chicken with rice or potatoes. While these are excellent healthy carb sources, save rice and potatoes for post-HIIT meals because they can be very filling.
- Peanut butter: Peanut butter and other nut butters are excellent sources of quick energy. It's also high in calories, so you don't need much to feel satisfied. Fat-heavy foods should be avoided for pre-HIIT meals and snacks, with the exception of a small amount of peanut butter. For a tasty treat, serve with toast or a banana.
FOODS TO AVOID PRIOR TO HIIT
Of course, there are a variety of foods you should avoid prior to HIIT. If some of these foods have previously served you well, by all means, keep doing what works for you. However, for the vast majority of people, eating these foods before a workout can result in the following problems:
- Vegetables: What do you mean? What, no vegetables? Yep. Eating vegetables before a workout is a bad idea. This is especially true for raw vegetables and green leafy vegetables. While these are necessary components of your diet, they can cause gassiness and upset stomach, making your high-intensity HIIT session feel nearly impossible. When is the best time to eat your vegetables? Stay tuned to find out.
- Fast Foods: This one is self-explanatory. Our bodies despise greasy, processed fried foods. They are difficult to digest and cause us to feel tired and sluggish. It's best to avoid these meals entirely, but keep them away from your pre-workout foods in particular.
- Smoothies: With all of the foods listed as pre-HIIT options, you might be tempted to make a fruit smoothie out of those ingredients. While we're not saying you should never have a smoothie, they can be quite caloric and filling. Too much food before your HIIT session can cause discomfort and limit your ability to move freely.
WHAT SHOULD YOU EAT AFTER A HIIT WORKOUT?
Post-workout nutrition is just as important as pre-workout nutrition. Refueling your body after an intense workout is critical for recovery and allows your body to repair itself so that it can handle the next workout better. In other words, refueling is necessary if you want to see results such as improved performance and even muscle growth.
You're sweaty, tired, and possibly out of breath after your HIIT session. What should be the first thing you put into your body? Water! You should have been drinking water during your rest periods between exercise movements, as dehydration can have a negative impact on your athletic abilities.
Even so, all of your electrolytes and hydration have been lost due to the intense HIIT sweat, and you'll need to prioritize your water intake for a while after your workout.
Many people mistakenly believe that after a workout, you should only eat protein or even avoid eating at all. The idea is that eating will only reverse any training progress. The good news is... This is simply not true.
Most HIIT sessions deplete our energy reserves, so there's no need to feel guilty about replenishing. In terms of carbohydrates, our bodies convert them into glucose, which our muscles store as glycogen. After a workout, your muscles' glycogen stores are depleted, which not only helps the muscle perform well but also gives the muscle a fuller appearance.
Because not all of the carbs we eat are stored in our muscles, it's best not to overdo it on the post-workout carbs. You should also limit your carbohydrate intake to healthy sources.
Here are some good post-workout carbohydrate options:
- Brown or white rice: Rice is a good source of carbohydrates and is slow to digest, so it keeps you fuller for longer. It also complements most proteins and rounds out any well-rounded meal.
- Sweet potatoes: Sweet potatoes are high in vitamins and nutrients, making them an excellent post-workout carbohydrate. Because they are quite filling, eating them as a pre-workout snack may cause discomfort. Sweet potatoes can be prepared in a variety of ways, and because they are sweet, they taste like a tasty treat.
- Fruits: For the same reasons that they are a good pre-workout snack, fruits are also a good post-workout snack. They are high in nutrients and are an excellent way to rehydrate.
While carbohydrates are important in your post-workout meal, protein may be the most important. This is because HIIT workouts, particularly strength-training HIIT, can cause muscle tissue to tear. What macronutrients aid in muscle recovery? You guessed it: protein!
Here are some excellent post-HIIT protein options:
- Chicken breast: Chicken breast is a high-quality protein source. It's super healthy, versatile, and goes well with a variety of carbs and veggies.
- Protein shake: If you're a shake fanatic, post-HIIT is the best time to get your shake on. You can add nutritious foods like fruit, oats, spinach, and protein powder sample packs to your protein shake! It will not only taste good, but it will also provide an efficient and well-rounded way to get in a lot of your necessary post-HIIT foods.
- Salad: Eating salad after a strenuous workout may be the last thing on your mind. Vegetables, on the other hand, are an important part of our daily diets, and because they are difficult to digest, eating them before a workout is not a good idea. And what about another surprise? Salads don't have to be monotonous. You can fill them with your favorite protein source, fruits and vegetables, or really any other food you enjoy.
FATS ARE HEALTHY
Despite what you may have heard, you should not eliminate fats from your diet. Of course, you don't need a lot of fat to function during the day, but having fat after your HIIT session is a great way to feel satisfied and help your body absorb vital nutrients.
Consider the following post-HIIT fat sources:
- Eggs: Eggs are a good source of fat and protein that can be easily incorporated into any meal. They are also low in calories and make an excellent addition to salads.
- Nuts: Because of their high calorie content, many people avoid nuts. Nuts, on the other hand, are high in essential nutrients and make an excellent snack. Try them in salads or smoothies to incorporate them into a meal!
- Avocados are high in calories and nutrients, making them ideal for replenishing lost energy. They are also a tasty addition to any meal and a quick and easy way to get some healthy fats. Combine it with eggs and toast for a satisfying post-HIIT meal.
- Salmon: Salmon has numerous health benefits, but it is best known for its healthy fats and high protein content. Salads and rice go well with salmon.
REMEMBER YOUR FITNESS GOALS
If you want to lose weight, change your body composition, or achieve other aesthetic goals, make sure your HIIT pre-workout meals support your efforts. This means that if you want to lose weight or fat, you should eat a meal that will keep you in a calorie deficit.
This shouldn't be too difficult because HIIT is great for burning calories. If you want to gain muscle, you'll need to maintain a calorie surplus. This usually entails eating a large meal before or after doing HIIT, as HIIT is notorious for depleting energy.
If you're having trouble deciding what to eat before and after your HIIT workouts, talk to a nutritionist about what's best for you. Everyone is different, and not all nutritional advice works the same way for everyone.
WRAPPING IT UP
With so much information available on the internet, determining what to eat to best support your body through workouts like HIIT is a difficult task. If nothing else works, concentrate on maintaining a healthy macronutrient balance.
Macros can be perplexing, but with perseverance and research, you can learn everything you need to know about them.
Make protein a priority for muscle repair and carbohydrates for your body's preferred energy source.
Above all, preparing your body for HIIT and refueling afterwards are critical for feeling and seeing results.