HIIT: Pre and Post workout Nutrition

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. 

When you or your trainer begins adding HIIT into your workout routine, it’s imperative you are cognizant of the fuel (carbs and protein) you’ll need to get the most out of the workout. The average person has no clue what to eat before any workout because they think about complete meals and they are afraid of regurgitating. Versus thinking of eating a small snack to simply feel energized. Well. That’s why I’m here, writing this blog on my way back from sesame place as Ava (my daughter) yells “daddyee,daddyee.. ipad” because the hotspot is interrupting her Elmo video; But that’s neither here nor there.

Over the years I have witnessed High-intensity training move to the top for favorite workout styles. This is mainly due to the constant moving and fast results that are produced in a shorter amount of time. As a Life Trainer, I myself prefer to give my clients HIIT workouts because it keeps the energy high and allows me to give more motivation. It’s to the point now that when I do body part focused (i.e quads and back) someone may say “okay what’s next? my heart rate is dropping”. That shows you how much people live for that high intensity, but that’s when I have to remind them on what the focus is.

The HIIT can involve exercises such as: burpees for 20 sec, jump squats for 20 sec, overhead barbell press for 20 sec with a 40-60 sec rest and trying to complete 4-5 rounds. You can replace these exercises with other simple and easily modified movements such as jumping jacks or lunges. When joint with the proper nutrition plan these HIIT workouts can produce life changing results, the type where you’ll need to buy a whole new wardrobe; for the right reason.

Benefits of HIIT:

  • 25-30% more calories burned in comparison to other types of workouts
  • Higher metabolism well after exercise is completed
  • Small amount of muscle gain, major fat loss
  • Reduced blood pressure

…that’s to name a few.

General Nutrition

We all should follow a salubrious meal plan that offer a variety of nutritious foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Having adequate calories and macronutrients such as carbohydrates to help energize the body and renew vitality for workouts. These suggestions along with adequate water are most important for overall nutrition .

Best options for a Pre-workout snack

  1. 1 Slice of whole wheat toast with almond butter and a banana (Low)  
  2. Non-fat Greek yogurt with fruit (Med)
  3. Trial mix and dried fruit (Low)
  4. Oatmeal (Med)
  5. 3 rice cakes (Med)

For workouts that require this kind of intensity, it’ll behoove you to keep steady with a nourishing nutrition plan and consume food hours before the workout. Choose the foods that are low to medium on the glycemic index chart to avoid powerful blood sugar spikes. High Glycemic options to avoid are foods like baked potatoes, french fries, pasta, and watermelon. If you’re a morning person try to eat something at least 30-45 min before the workout.   

Best Post workout options

  1. Protein shake (25g+)
  2.  Sweet potato
  3. Tuna and crackers
  4. Hummus with whole wheat pita
  5. Oatmeal

The biggest concern here is that most people aren’t even hungry after their workout (will discuss in later post) and think it’s best to not eat. This causes nutritional concern because you need to replace your energy stores (glycogen) that repair muscles you’ve broken down. If not able to eat a whole meal right away, eat something for your body to feed off of. Otherwise, your body just eats more muscle and that defeats the purpose of the workout. Peer reviewed research shows that a 3:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein inside 30 minutes of finishing the workout is recommended. Commit to eating these foods before your workout even starts, that way you avoid making poor food choices. Doing this will have you feeling ready for every HIIT to come, eat today in preparation for tomorrow!


Author Evolution Nutrition Contributor Evolution Nutrition was built for you—the fitness professional. (2015, March 11). Pre- and Post-workout Nutrition for High-Intensity Interval Training. Retrieved June 29, 2019, from https://www.acefitness.org/education-and-resources/professional/expert-articles/5332/pre-and-post-workout-nutrition-for-high-intensity-interval-training

Carbohydrates and Blood Sugar. (2016, July 25). Retrieved June 29, 2019, from https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/carbohydrates/carbohydrates-and-blood-sugar/

Harvard Health Publishing. (2018, March 14). Glycemic index for 60 foods. Retrieved June 29, 2019, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/glycemic-index-and-glycemic-load-for-100-foods

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