Due to the nature of a High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), proper nutrition before and after is critical to gain the most and best results from the workout.
HIIT involves moving quickly between extreme cardio, bodyweight exercises and weight bearing exercises. The combination of these movements elevates the heart rate and gets the muscles are working hard. This means the body needs both energy and nutrients to perform and recuperate.
The intensity of HIIT can cause muscle loss if the body doesn’t have the nutrients to support it, which defeats the whole purpose of working out! We aren’t asking you to sit down to a full meal, just give your body the boost of energy it needs to burn body fat. Snacks and light meals are great for pre-workout, while a healthy meal is ideal post-workout for refueling.
Not sure what to munch on? Here are a few nutrition tips to make your HIIT workout as effective as possible.
What to Eat Before a HIIT Workout
Carbs are energy- they provide fuel to exercise at our maximum levels. Without them, it is likely you’ll feel sluggish, tired or weaker than normal throughout the workout. However, knowing the difference between complex and simple carbs is very important.
- Simple carbs: are digested faster and provide quick energy
- Complex cabs: are broken down in a much slower process providing energy over time.
Combining the two carb types provides a boost of energy right away while sustaining you through the whole workout.
In addition to carbs, protein plays an important role in your pre-workout nutrient routine. Only a small amount of protein is needed and it is ideal to consume proteins that are easily digestible, to prevent an upset stomach.
A few snack ideas for 30 minutes to an hour before your workout are:
- Apple with a hard-boiled egg
- Sliced banana on a rice cake
- Greek yogurt with berries
- Whole grain toast with nut butter or sliced meat
- Oats with dried fruit
- Hummus and pita bread
What to Eat After a HIIT Workout
Much like your pre-workout snack or meal, good carbs and lean proteins are most important for your post-workout. Once you’ve crushed your HIIT session, your body is depleted. Now, it’s time to replenish the energy used and recover those muscles.
There are numerous consequences when we skip out on post workout nutrition. Some of these include fatigue, increased soreness and low blood sugar levels which can result in dizziness and other symptoms.
Post nutrition should include protein to build and repair the muscle tissue, allowing the body to recover more quickly partnered a complex carbohydrate to replenish energy and fuel stores.
A good rule of thumb is to consume your post-workout snack or meal within 30-60 minutes of your cool-down. If you can’t eat a meal right away, be sure to grab a snack within about 20 minutes for optimal recovery, so you don’t completely tank the rest of the day.
A few meal ideas for 30 minutes to an hour after your workout are:
- Egg white omelet loaded with vegetables and a side of fruit
- Peanut butter and banana in a whole grain wrap
- Oats with a banana and yogurt
- A chicken or turkey sandwich wrap
- Tuna and crackers
- Lean meats with quinoa and vegetables
- Whole grain toast with nut butter
Hydration is 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 your session is just as important.
Dehydration will zap strength, especially during a high intensity workout. The recommended water intake varies from person to person based on intensity of the workout and body weight, however a basic rule of thumb is:
- Drink 20 ounces 2-3 hours before your workout
- Drink a full 8-ounce glass 30 minutes before your workout
- Drink another 16-ounces 30 minutes following your workout
Don’t let your performance decline part way through; be sure to stay hydrated during your workout, too. Drinking another 8-ounces for every 20 minutes of intense movement will keep you on your toes and pushing maximum performance.
- Pre- and Post-workout Nutrition for High-Intensity Interval Training
- General Nutrition to Support a H.I.I.T. Program
- Pre-workout Nutrition for HIIT
- Post-workout Nutrition for HIIT
- Pre and Post HIIT Workout Nutrition: This is What Makes or Breaks Your Success
- What is a HIIT Workout?
- Why Does HIIT Nutrition Matter?
- What Nutrients are Best Pre-HIIT?
- What Nutrients are Needed Post-HIIT?
- Supplements or “Real” Food?
- HIIT Post-Workout Survival
- Fueling Your Body for High Intensity Interval Training
- High Intensity Interval Training Targets Fat Burn
- Pre-Workout Meals
- Post-Workout Meals
- Fuel Up Before Your Next HIIT Workout!
- Should I Eat Before Or After My HIIT Workout?
- JOIN OUR NEWSLETTER
Pre- and Post-workout Nutrition for High-Intensity Interval Training
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) has become hugely popular thanks to real results in shorter periods of time and extensive benefits. With busy schedules the norm, it’s no wonder so many clients and potential clients are now seeking out these kinds of workouts.
HIIT, which involves repeated sessions of relatively brief, intermittent exercise, usually performed at very high intensity, can be easily modified for various client needs and fitness levels. When combined with an expert nutrition program, personalized HIIT programs can elicit serious results and health benefits, including:
- Improve blood pressure and cardiovascular health
- Improved insulin sensitivity
- Improved body composition
Whether you’re adding HIIT to your own personal fitness program or ramping up client results and health benefits with this style of training, it’s important to understand the nutritional needs to support it from start to finish. While nutritional needs do vary by individual and training program, these nutrition plans and meal ideas for pre- and post-workout nutrition can help.
General Nutrition to Support a H.I.I.T. Program
To get the most out of any fitness program, clients should follow a healthy meal plan in general. Effective and well-rounded nutrition programs are based on a variety of healthful ingredients such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and lean proteins. The best nutrition plans provide adequate calories and macronutrients such as carbohydrates to fuel the body and provide energy stores for workouts. It’s important that these are expertly created programs that allow you to stay within your scope of practice and prevent clients adopting a restrictive diet that may inhibit their success. Adequate water is also a must to ensure complete hydration during workouts.
Pre-workout Nutrition for HIIT
Due to the intensity of these workouts, it’s vital to follow a healthy nutrition plan with adequate nutrition in the days and hours leading up to a workout. Plan on a moderate- to high-carbohydrate meal that also includes protein approximately three to four hours before the HIIT workout, and then another high-carbohydrate snack within an hour after the workout. Good options for a pre-workout meal include:
- Whole-wheat toast with peanut butter and banana
- Non-fat Greek yogurt or cottage cheese with fruit
- Dried fruit and almonds
Post-workout Nutrition for HIIT
The biggest nutritional concern post-workout is replacing energy stores (glycogen) and repairing muscles that have been broken down during the intense workout. Again, a combination of carbohydrates and protein has been shown to be most effective. Research shows that a 3:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein within 30 minutes of completing a HIIT workout is best for replacing energy stores in preparation for the next high-intensity workout. Suggestions for post-workout nutrition are similar to pre-workout meals and include:
- Whole-grain cereal with fruit and soy milk
- Whole-wheat crackers with fruit and cheese
- Hummus and pita bread
The best pre- and post-workout nutrition boosts energy and results—and client motivation. Help clients to achieve the results they demand while you improve client retention with an effective nutrition program for high-intensity interval training.
Pre and Post HIIT Workout Nutrition: This is What Makes or Breaks Your Success
High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is no fad. This form of exercise has been around for a long time, even though it’s gone by different names. There’s a reason the method sticks around- it works! People love their HIIT workout because it actually helps with weight loss and muscle strengthening. Plus it’s quick.
But here’s the thing: if you aren’t eating right before and after your HIIT workout, you probably aren’t reaping all the benefits you can.
What is a HIIT Workout?
There are a ton of different HIIT workouts to choose from. Some are simple, others are advanced workouts. Fitness newbies, weight loss warriors, and bodybuilders all benefit from HIIT.
The basic idea behind HIIT is to alternate quickly through intervals of intense exercise. For example, a HIIT routine may involve going from extreme cardio stepping, to bodyweight exercises, and then back again. Throughout a HIIT workout, your heart rate is elevated and your muscles work hard.
Why Does HIIT Nutrition Matter?
“Intensity” is a vital component of any true HIIT regimen. As a result, people lose weight fast and gain muscle rapidly. The body has to work really hard- and that’s really good for you!
But it also means your body needs energy and needs nutrients to recuperate. Nutrition matters when you’re doing HIIT because the intensity can cause muscle loss if your body doesn’t have the nutrients to handle it.
What Nutrients are Best Pre-HIIT?
Before you kickstart your body with HIIT, you need fuel. The goal is to have energy, but not a heavy stomach. It’s smart to snack or eat light, clean foods before HIIT. Avoid sugars and fattening foods that can slow you down or cause an energy crash. Instead, go for a blend of slow-burning carbs and protein:
- Low-sugar protein bars
- Fruit and grain based bread
- Healthy cereal
- Protein supplements
What Nutrients are Needed Post-HIIT?
Once you’re dripping sweat after HIIT, it’s no surprise that your body is depleted. Experts say you have a 1-2 hour window after HIIT to refuel so that your body can rebuild those muscles you want to grow.
The muscle repair that takes place after a workout is fueled in part by macronutrients like those found in carb-heavy foods. Of course, muscle is actually built by protein. A combination of nutrient-rich carbs and lean protein is best after HIIT for muscle repair and growth.
Recommended post-HIIT foods include:
- Quinoa or healthy grains
- Protein shakes
- Lean meat like chicken or fish
- Protein supplements
Whereas snacks or light meals are best pre-workout, generally regular healthy meals are ideal for post-workout refueling.
Supplements or “Real” Food?
HIIT is a favorite for people who are busy or who are trying to lose weight. So it’s not surprising if you want your pre and post workout diet to be quick and easy. Protein supplements can make getting your essential nutrients more convenient. For example, dotFit offers a variety of health and fitness focused supplements.
Fueling for energy during your workout and refueling for muscle repair afterward is the secret to being successful at HIIT. So obviously you’ll still need to eat “real” foods, like the kind you chew. But supplements are smart for supplementing your diet to ensure your body has what it needs, when you need it.
You can learn more about fueling your body to meet fitness goals with our FREE Bodybuilders Nutrition Guide.
HIIT Post-Workout Survival
Anyone else already tired of those boring cardio sessions?
We caught up with the girls at ‘DASH’ to find out some more about High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), and thought we’d spread some wisdom with our Sistas!
Thanks to @sarada_dash for the insights! Lets get to sprinting!
“First of, HIIT training is hard. Its super intense and during those sessions you’re not likely to get in a lot of water, so the first thing to mention would be to make sure you’re well hydrated before you start your workout.
But the worst part, I find, is that you always feel hungry and exhausted straight afterwards and even the morning after! Once those post workout endorphins (you know – the things that make you feel good) have worn off and the high has gone, it’s really tempting to reach for something sugary as a pick me up to keep the energy levels high, or even as treat for your hard work. We’ve all been there – but it can actually do more harm than good!
Whatever you are training for, whether it’s for an event or just because it’s your New Years Resolution (congrats on making it this far!), it’s so important your diet is right. Whatever you are putting into your body, you need to output the right energy to perform at your best – and this doesn’t just go for athletes! If it’s going to take you a while home and you cant resist the urge to snack, why not have a quick protein shake before you get home and can fix yourself up a proper dinner.
Personally, I think the best thing to have after a HIIT workout is a protein shake. Whenever you do a HIIT workout you get small tears in your muscles (don’t worry these micro-tears are a good thing!). As these tears recover, the muscle fibers rebuild stronger. Protein is perfect for recovery as it is easily absorbed and it helps to replenish your muscles. Even the next morning, if you’re aching like hell, an easily digested protein shake will do wonders!
As mentioned before, your diet is key and it is best to stick to lean protein powders rather than meal replacement shakes. Post workout, you are going to be hungry, and so more than anything, it’s a great excuse to fill your plate with a lot of greens and some lean protein. But greens should be the most prominent thing you see on your plate.
Remember though, every single body is different, and you should always listen to your own body and tailor to your own needs. But it’s what you put in that helps how you perform!”
Fueling Your Body for High Intensity Interval Training
High intensity interval training delivers an incredible burn to your body. It’s a style of training that involves pushing yourself as hard as possible, giving all of your efforts, for short bursts of time. These intense intervals are followed by short periods of rest or moderate-level activity. High intensity interval training, or HIIT, is great for anyone looking to improve their level of fitness. Plus, it provides awesome health benefits, such as improved blood pressure, insulin sensitivity, and improved cardiovascular health.
However, because HIIT is so intense, it’s important to ensure your body is properly fueled both before and after the workout. High intensity interval training can be a shock to your system, and exercising without supplying your body the energy it needs can result in some unpleasant side effects.
High Intensity Interval Training Targets Fat Burn
Because the goal is fat burn, many people think it’s better to avoid eating before their HIIT workout. This can be a major mistake. The old philosophy is that body composition change is only 20% exercise and 80% nutrition. While those exact numbers may not be entirely accurate, the general philosophy is true. Training can only do so much. In reality, you eat yourself into a better body.
Neglecting to properly fuel up before your high intensity interval training can significantly hamper your performance. HIIT workouts can be very taxing. It’s essential that your diet supplies your body enough energy to do what you demand of it, allowing you to work your hardest and obtain the maximum results.
Just as with a traditional weightlifting workout, it’s important to fuel up before HIIT. Some people may like to exercise on an empty stomach to increase the fat burn. While doing some quick, fasted Tabata might be alright, it’s generally not a great idea to participate in a HIIT group class without having eaten recently. These classes can last upwards of 45-60 minutes. That’s a long time to demand max performance of your body without having provided it much fuel to convert to energy.
Before your workout, it’s a good idea to go for some fast-digesting proteins and carbohydrates. These can come in the form of fruit and nuts, or some toast with peanut butter and banana. Foods like this will move through your system quickly and provide an immediate source of energy to help you annihilate your workout.
If you’re really close to your training time, avoid consuming too many fats. They digest much more slowly, meaning the energy you get from them may not be available when you need it. Fats are great for providing a steady stream of energy throughout the day, but they don’t provide the same spike that carbohydrates do.
Your post-workout meal needs to replace depleted glycogen stores, as well as provide protein and amino acids to help your body recover and allow your muscles to repair themselves. While you may not be ready to eat a full meal immediately after your workout, it’s a good idea to grab something within 2 hours. Something substantial, containing carbohydrates and protein, is ideal.
Rice, quinoa, and sweet potato are great complex carbohydrates. Chicken, turkey, and tuna are all lean meats with plenty of protein. Don’t forget your veggies, either! Leafy greens like kale, spinach, spring mix, and chard are all low-calorie carbohydrate options that are packed with vitamins, nutrient, and fiber.
When in doubt, you can always go with the tried and true favorite: a protein shake. Combining carbohydrate-rich fruits like bananas, strawberries, or blueberries with amino-acid-enriched protein powder is the preeminent post-workout go-to, and for good reason. It combines everything you need to help your body restore and recover after high intensity interval training.
Fuel Up Before Your Next HIIT Workout!
High intensity interval training is an excellent way to change your body for the better. It annihilates all that stubborn body fat, while also preserving and toning muscle. The result is an incredible, lean, high-performance body. However, as with any form of exercise, it’s important to provide your body the proper fuel. In order to great results to occur, you need to focus your efforts just as diligently in the kitchen as you do in your training.
At BodyRoc Fit Lab, we take high intensity interval training to the next level. We combine weight training, self-propelled treadmills, and boxing for the ultimate circuit workout that is guaranteed to help build your peak performance. Our innovative atmosphere pairs high intensity playlists and live music with incredible, carefully designed workouts. If you’re ready to reach new heights with your body, sign up for a class now. The first session is on us!
Should I Eat Before Or After My HIIT Workout?
Recover faster from high-intensity workouts with the Recoup Fitness Roller.
JOIN OUR NEWSLETTER
You Might Like:
5 High-Intensity Interval Training Mistakes Athletes Make
Alyssa Bialowas High-intensity interval training (HIIT) is one of the hottest fitness trends right now, and because of this, many people have put their own spin on it to try and make it their own….
5 Ways HIIT Improves Fitness in Women
Alyssa Bialowas Research poll after research poll, male and female adults express that one of the biggest barriers they face to frequent exercise is lack of time. One common assumption is that exercise and physical…
6 Tips to Fuel Your HIIT Nutrition Plan
Alyssa Biawolas If you’re spending a lot of time creating and abiding by your workout plan, a healthy meal plan will enable you to get the most out of your efforts. When creating a nutrition…
4 Ways HIIT Exercise Improves Kidney Health
By Alyssa Bialowas High intensity interval training (HIIT) is a type of exercise that has been found to improve health levels in people with metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, and has recently been found to help those…
Do High-Intensity Exercises and Carbs Alter the Proteins in Your Fat?
A Review by Alyssa Bialowas Introduction Visfatin is a protein found in visceral fat, and has been connected to a number of cellular functions including inflammation and glucose metabolism. As this study by Mellick et…
HIIT Responses In Endurance & Sprint Athletes
A Review by Alyssa Bialowas HIIT (high intensity interval training) is a widely popular training method used in both endurance and sprint training. For endurance athletes, HIIT is beneficial in a number of ways, from…