As the name suggests, high intensity interval training, or HIIT, is intense, physical and requires large amounts of energy. Good nutrition is therefore paramount to meet the energy demands of the body, as health expert Leanne Edermaniger explains.
Nutrition for HIIT
To meet the energy demands of a HIIT workout, it’s essential that you eat the right foods. Although you don’t necessarily need to make drastic dietary changes, it’s important to be aware of what and when you’re eating. After all, there’s no point in completing the exercise only to load up on extra carbs immediately after.
The intensity of HIIT means that your body needs to have a ready supply of nutrients. A few hours before your workout, you should consume digestible carbohydrates and proteins in a ratio of 3:1. Digestible and slow-release carbs include whole grain bread, oatmeal and nuts. These can be paired with protein sources like lean chicken, fish or tofu. Foods high in fiber should be avoided pre-workout as these can cause stomach cramps. Equally, too much protein or fat is not a good idea either as these take a long time to digest and be converted into energy.
During the workout
HIIT is not a training method that lends itself to mid-workout snacks. Instead, the only thing you should be consuming during a HIIT workout is still water. You might not want to waste valuable seconds taking a drink, but getting thirsty can distract from performance.
Within 2 hours of your workout, try to eat carbohydrates, proteins and some sugar to replace the energy used and to repair damaged muscle, but only eat just enough to satisfy your appetite, especially if your goal is to lose weight. Effective post-workout foods include eggs, wholegrains and fish.
The benefits of HIIT are wide-ranging, but you’ll only truly see these benefits if you fuel your body correctly. Combining HIIT with the right foods and a healthy diet will not only boost energy, improve performance and optimize results, but has even been proven to positively impact motivation and your mental state.