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What should you eat before and after physical activity?

Published on May 27, 2017 at 12:48 / Updated on June 7, 2022 at 14:32

Spring is the season that returns us into light and warmth, and it often inspires us to become more active again. So here's everything you need to know about snacks before, during and after physical activity!

Before your activity: carbohydrates!

  • Fresh fruit
  • A fruit compote or fruit salad
  • An energy bar
  • A tender, low-fat bar (avoid those with nuts too high in fat, because before exercising, we should consume foods that contain only carbohydrates!)
  • Dried or dehydrated fruit
  • 1 piece of toast with jam or jelly
  • Yogurt 
  • Drinkable yogurt 
  • A bowl of cereal with milk
  • Half a bagel spread with light peanut butter
  • Fruit juice 

If you’re a fan of smoothies, know that before a workout, drink smoothies made from fruit only (frozen fruit or fresh fruit, it's up to you). After your workout, be sure to add a touch of protein like milk, Greek yogurt, whey powder, soy beverage, or silky tofu, to name a few. 

During your activity: drink lots of water!

It’s estimated that a sedentary adult, who doesn’t practice physical activity, will lose on average between 2 and 2.5 liters of water every day. It’s very important to always maintain an optimal state of hydration to enable the body to function well. Dehydration brings its share of disadvantages, ranging from muscle cramps to abdominal pain, through a drop in cardiac output, a situation that can be dangerous and lead to the onset of a myocardial infarction. 

Since exercise alters the thirst mechanism, you shouldn't wait until you feel thirsty to drink. The thirst reflex kicks in when we are already 1% or 2% dehydrated, which can affect performance. It’s therefore necessary to always hydrate well. If the activity lasts less than an hour, water will suffice. On the other hand, if the physical activity continues for more than an hour, drinks that provide carbohydrates become useful, such as sports drinks or simple juices to which a pinch of salt is added. In addition to providing the carbohydrates that serve as fuel for your body, these drinks will supply the electrolytes (sodium, potassium and chloride ions) you’ve lost during perspiration. 

After your activity: Carbohydrates + protein!

Here are some examples of post-activity snacks:

  • A bowl of cereal + skim milk
  • 250ml to 500ml of chocolate milk 
  • Two fig cookies and a soy drink
  • 100ml (1 container) of 0% Greek yogurt flavoured with fruit
  • A smoothie (skimmed milk + fruit + honey)
  • A protein drink
  • 4-5 crackers, low-fat cheese + vegetable juice
  • A glass of milk + a homemade oatmeal muffin
  • “Nutribar” style energy or protein bar
  • Un morceau de fromage allégé + une pomme
  •  A hard-boiled egg sandwich

In conclusion, depending on the sport you enjoy, it may be that you only really need a snack prior to your activity. Take special care to maintain an optimal state of hydration throughout the activity, so don’t forget your water bottles!

Familiprix in collaboration with Hubert Cormier  

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