The Best Foods To Eat Before and After a HIIT Workout
Offering proven results in minimal time, HIIT workouts have rapidly gained popularity in the last few years.
While HIIT workouts can produce excellent results on their own, results may be even better when paired with the right nutrition. Consuming the right foods before a workout can provide sustained energy while eating foods rich in protein and antioxidants after a tough workout can help restore energy and promote muscle repair and growth.
Here’s our list of the top foods to eat before and after your HIIT workouts to maximize your training and support your best results.
What Is HIIT?
HIIT stands for high-intensity interval training, a form of exercise that focuses on short bursts of all-out effort followed by short periods of recovery.
High-intensity training offers an ideal way for people to stay fit even if they are short on time and features science-backed benefits.
Should I Eat Before My Workout?
Many people wonder if they need to eat prior to HIIT workouts. Maintaining proper nutrition and balanced meals — healthy fats, high-quality protein, and healthy carbs — throughout the day is more important than picking the perfect pre-workout snack.
As long as you have enough energy to get through your workout without feeling light-headed, dizzy, or completely fatigued, you do not necessarily need a pre-workout snack.
A lot of it comes down to timing and personal preference. For example, if you eat breakfast at 6 am and do not workout until 11 am, you may need a little snack prior to working out. However, if you eat breakfast at 7 am and workout out at 9 am, you will most likely find that you do not need a pre-workout snack to perform at your best.
If your goal is weight loss and you do not want to add additional calories to your diet with a snack, consider splitting your breakfast in two.
What Are the Best Foods to Eat Before a Workout?
If you feel you need a snack before a workout, what are the best foods to eat? Generally, a mix of protein and healthy carbs or protein paired with healthy fats may be a good option.
The biggest mistake to avoid is consuming a carbohydrate or sugar-only snack. Although it is good to refuel your muscles, spiking your blood sugar is never ideal. When you spike your blood sugar levels before a workout, your body is forced to burn that energy first instead of using metabolic processes to get energy. Essentially, instead of using stored fat and sugar as fuel during a workout, you are burning the sugar you just ate.
Again, eating carbs before a workout is fine — as long as they are paired with protein to slow the rise of blood sugar.
It is also important to pay attention to simple versus complex carbs. Simple carbs are digested fast whereas complex carbs get broken down slower for a more steady dose of energy. Combining the two types can provide immediate and sustained energy throughout your workout.
Along with carbohydrates, protein is important to consider. A small amount — preferably an easily digestible source — can be an excellent pre-workout option.
A few snack ideas for 30 minutes to an hour before your workout are:
- A rice cake with peanut butter and sliced banana
- Greek yogurt with fresh or frozen berries
- Whole grain toast with sliced meat, nut butter, or mashed avocado
- Oats with dried fruit
- A hard-boiled egg and an apple
- Pita bread with hummus (pictured below)
What to Eat After a HIIT Workout?
Similar to a pre-workout meal or snack, healthy carbohydrates and protein are important after a workout to restore energy and help muscles recover.
In general, whole, unprocessed food are the best choice to reach for as these foods provide the vitamins, antioxidants, nutrients, and minerals your body needs for optimal recovery.
Be sure to pair protein with healthy carbs is a great way to help your body utilize protein efficiently.
A few meal ideas for 30 minutes to an hour after your workout include:
- An omelet packed with cut up vegetables (broccoli, spinach, mushrooms, onions, asparagus, etc.) and a side of fresh fruit or sweet potato
- Sliced banana and peanut butter in a whole grain wrap
- A turkey or chicken sandwich wrap with fresh romaine or spinach
- Whole grain crackers with tuna
- Quinoa and vegetables with lean meat
- Nut butter spread on whole grain toast
- Whole grain toast spread with mashed avocado and served with a side of blueberries
- Oatmeal with sliced banana and yogurt
Feel free to get creative with your choices by picking protein and carb pairs from this list of powerhouse foods:
- Foods rich in Omega 3s such as chia seeds, flax seeds, walnuts, and salmon
- Healthy, starchy carbohydrates such as wholes grains (if tolerated), beans, or sweet potatoes
- Fruits, especially blueberries, tart cherries, pomegranates, and bananas
- Non-starchy veggies
- Spices, especially turmeric
- Whole eggs — a nutritional powerhouse with protein, vitamins (including Vitamin D), minerals, and important nutrients such as choline
- Dairy (if well tolerated) such as cottage cheese, plain Greek yogurt, ricotta cheese, or whey protein
When Should I Eat After a Workout?
Generally, it is a good idea to eat within 30 to 60 minutes of your cool down.
Are Protein Shakes a Good Post-Workout Snack?
A high-quality protein shake is a popular post-workout choice and for good reason. With vitamins, protein, and minerals all in one, protein shakes offer a convenient way to refuel your body after an intense training session.
When choosing a meal replacement or protein shake, read the ingredient list carefully to avoid brands full of sugar, preservatives, and chemicals.
If you are looking for the best meal replacement shake, consider Isagenix’s professionally formulated IsaLean shake.
With delicious flavours, IsaLean shakes are packed with ingredients designed to maximize your body’s fat-burning abilities, provide optimal nutrition, fight cravings, and support the growth.
IsaLean shakes contain premium ingredients such as:
- 24 grams of high-quality, undenatured protein sourced from grass-fed New Zealand cows
- Omega 3s
- Healthy fats
- Just 240 calories
- Complex carbohydrates
- Superior amino acid profile
- Enzymes to support healthy digestion
- Delicious flavors including Dutch chocolate, Vanilla, Peach Mango, and Strawberry
Adding only optimal ingredients in IsaLean shakes eliminates potentially harmful add-ins such as:
- Artificial colors
- Artificial sweeteners
- Artificial flavors
If needed, a banana makes a great complement to protein shake, adding healthy carbohydrates and additional vitamins and minerals.
Don’t Forget To Hydrate!
Along with eating the proper foods before and after a workout, hydration is another key aspect to maximizing performance and recovery. Sweating cause the loss of fluids, making it important to maintain adequate hydration before, during, and after a workout.
Letting yourself get dehydrated, especially during a HIIT workout, can zap energy and lead to a decrease in performance.
While ideal water intake varies depending on the individual, the basic rule of thumb is to:
- Drink 20 ounces of water 2 to 3 hours prior to your workout
- Drink an 8 ounce glass of water before your workout
- Drink 16 ounces of water within 30 minutes after your workout
- Stay hydrated as needed throughout your workout
With its intense cardio bursts and bodyweight focused exercises, HIIT workouts can push your body to the limit, making the proper foods important to performance and recovery.
Refueling your body with nutritious, whole foods after an intense workout is essential to performance as well as recovery. Try adding some of the foods mentioned above before or after your workouts to see if you notice a positive difference.
Do you normally eat before a workout, after, or both? Do you have any go-to pre or post-workout snacks? We’d love to hear your favorite healthy snacks for before or after working out.