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What To Eat Before And After Your Pilates Class

by Rachel Scoular on Saturday 15 May 2021

Pilates offers our benefits to the body both physically and mentally, regardless if we are beginners, intermediate or advanced. Nutrition can play an important role in your Pilates practice and help ensure you are maximising your effort in class and support rapid recovery after.

We spoke with APD Dietitian and Nutritionist Rachel Scoular (also known as @healthyhappyhabits on IG) to find out what to eat before class, after class and what she recommends we consider on rest days.

Before Pilates Class

Many Pilates classes at Virgin Active focus on strength development, with a particular focus on supporting core strength. Because of this, it may be preferable to keep things light and avoid having a large meal straight before class, helping to prevent any of those sluggish feelings which can come from an overly full stomach. It is also recommended to avoid foods high in fat before a workout as they take longer to digest and break down, which may have a negative impact on energy levels.

Avoid consuming high caffeine foods (such as coffee, tea or cola) right before class. Foods high in caffeine can promote the activity of colon-stimulating agents, increasing peristalsis and may lead to digestive discomfort or create an urgent feeling to get to the bathroom - which we can all agree is less than ideal heading into a Pilates class! Instead, opt for a serve of moderate-high GI carbohydrates which you know you can tolerate and will be easy to digest. Some people may find that solids do not sit as well as liquids before a class, so I’ve included a range of suggestions below;

  •          A medium sized banana 
  •          A muesli bar  
  •          Small fruit smoothie
  •          Small tub of yoghurt (such as Chobani or YoPro)
  •          Small roll of sushi 

Try to eat your last main meal about 2-3 hours before class, or allow 30-60 minutes after consuming a light snack. If your class is first thing in the morning and you have no other training scheduled straight before or after, you may be able compete the class on an empty stomach, however if you feel you are fading in the final 15 minutes, consider one of the suggestions above. The final thing to consider, is avoid trying any new foods right before class, this can help to prevent any feelings of discomfort or unease that may arise from a foreign food that your body is not familiar with.   

After Pilates 

When choosing what to refuel with after class, focusing on hydration, complex carbohydrates and lean proteins is sure to set you up for recovery success. Virgin Active Pilates classes will work you hard, and you are sure to work up a sweat. The first thing to choose post-workout is plenty of water to quench the thirst and rehydrate your body. Aim to consume 600mL of water either throughout the class, or soon after. 

Good quality carbohydrates and lean proteins are essential post-workout. If you will be on-the-go straight after class, aim to refuel with a light snack within 60 minutes. Aim for at least 20g of lean protein to help support muscle growth and repair and a serve of complex carbohydrates to replenish lost glycogen stores and support recovering energy levels. Suggestions include; 

  •          Small fruit smoothie 
  •          Can of tuna with wholegrain crackers 
  •          Glass of milk or protein shake 
  •          Wholegrain crackers with ricotta and berries

If you are heading off to a main meal straight after class (such as dinner), there is no need eat before your meal. Instead, ensure you are consuming a balanced meal, aim for your dinner plate to be roughly ¼ of the plate complex carbohydrates (such as brown rice, quinoa, wholemeal pasta), ¼ plate lean protein (such as chicken breast, lean meat, tofu) and the remainder of the plate a rich mix of vegetables, ideally with a minimum of three colours. 

Rest Days 

On rest days, our energy requirements are generally lower, due to less energy output from activity and exercise. Rest days are still important as they allow for our bodies to fully recover. Designated days off Pilates provide the opportunity to ‘loosen up’ our intake a little, as there is no need to focus on nutrition intake and timings before or after a class.

Generally speaking, aim to be eating every 3-4 hours, with a regular intake of complex, low GI carbohydrates and lean protein. Choosing foods high in these two nutrients will help to support recovery and prevent against low energy availability for your next day of exercise. As always, try to limit your intake of processed foods and refined sugars and focus on eating a rich variety of foods, especially plant foods. Suggestions for rest day meals include; 

  •         Scrambled egg breakfast wrap 
  •         Tuna and brown rice salad
  •         Salmon and roast vegetables 

To learn more about healthy eating and nailing nutrition and fitness goals, get in touch with a personal trainer from Virgin Active today. Or have a question? Send us a message, we'd love to hear from you!

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Book in for a free guided tour. We'll show you all the facilities and answer any questions you may have. No obligation. Just lots of smiles. We'll call you to book your visit at a convenient time.

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