EASY MEAL MATH
Having the right amount of nutrients at the right time will maximize your workout gains. We crunch the numbers for you.
WHAT TO ADD PRE- AND POSTWORKOUT
Every meal and snack should have protein as well as carbs, says registered dietitian and nutritionist Brigitte Zeitlin. But the ratios change depending on when you’re eating. Preworkout, aim for three grams of carbs for every gram of protein (for example, a cup of apple slices and two tablespoons of peanut butter). Your postworkout eats should have a 2:1 ratio (like a slice of whole wheat toast, two scrambled eggs, and cup of blueberries)—pumping up the level of protein at this time helps with muscle repair.
There’s an ideal window to get energy to exercise without a sloshy stomach. Have your preworkout snack one to two and a half hours before you start your session. Then eat a meal or snack within a half hour after you towel off, because that’s when your body’s repair work is in full swing.
THE 20 PERCENT ADVANTAGE
Eat clean most of the time, but allow about 20 percent of your meals and snacks to be more indulgent—that gives you leeway for about one treat a day, whether that’s a meal or a snack. “Excessively restricting foods is not balanced or sustainable,” Zeitlin says. “You need some treats to avoid burning out and overindulging.” Just make them mindful, and pick foods that are truly satisfying and delicious.