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Today I would like to talk about eating and workouts.
Should you eat before a workout?
Should you eat after a workout?
What should you eat before? After?
Let’s get started!
Eating Before a Workout
Good nutrition can go a long way to helping us in these areas. If we eat a properly nutritious meal before we work out, our performance will probably be better, and we may even minimize muscle damage and maximize muscle recovery.
So, what should you eat before you work out?
It is important to eat food from all three macro-nutrient groups to enhance your body’s ability to tackle a tough workout with the fuel it needs.
Your muscles use the glucose from carbs for fuel. Your body stores the glucose in carbs as glycogen in the muscles and uses this for energy when you are performing short, high intensity exercises, such as weight lifting.
Eating protein before your workout will increase muscle protein synthesis during and after your workout, allowing your muscles to recover more quickly. Protein will also improve your muscle performance during a workout.
Consuming the proper fats before a workout may help you have the stamina to keep the workout going, as your body will use the fat it has stored for energy when it runs out of glycogen.
Timing is also a key to before workout meals.
If you want to maximize the results of your training, you should eat a complete meal with all three macro-nutrients 2-3 hours before your workout.
As an example, if time permits, have an omelet with avocado slices and some fruit. Or a sandwich with lean protein and a salad. Or lean protein, rice, and roasted vegetables.
If you do not have that much time before you workout, you need to choose foods that are simple for your body to digest and contain mostly carbs and a little protein.
For example, if your workout is within a couple of hours, you could have a smoothie made with banana and mixed berries with some added protein powder, or a cup of oatmeal topped with a banana and some almonds.
If your workout is imminent, within the hour, perhaps just a banana or a protein bar would fuel you up enough to get through the workout.
As a last resort, taking a Pre-Workout supplement will at least give you some of the nutrients needed to fuel your workout.
Eating After a Workout
You ate properly beforehand to ensure you were fueled for the workout. Now you need to be sure to feed your body the correct nutrients to aid in its recovery.
The correct foods – namely carbs and protein – will allow your body to restore the glycogen stores, enhance recovery, increase muscle protein synthesis, and decrease muscle protein breakdown.
Your body has used all the glycogen it had stored in the muscles while you worked out. Now you need to replenish this store of glycogen, and eating the proper foods will make this a simple task for your body. Carbs and protein will both help with this glycogen restoration, but especially carbs.
The consumption of protein post-workout will give your body the amino acids it needs to repair and build the muscle tissue. About 20-40 grams of protein should do the trick.
Try to consume the carbs and protein in a 3:1 ratio (carbs:protein), so if you are having 40 grams of protein, have 120 grams of carbs.
Limiting fat intake after a workout will aid in recovery, but a little won’t hurt.
You should be consuming your post workout foods within 45 minutes of your workout to give your body the best chance of recovering properly, as it will have the nutrients it needs to do the work of recovery.
Here is a list of good carbs to have post workout:
- sweet potatoes
- chocolate milk
- dark, leafy vegetables
- rice cakes
Here is a list of good post workout proteins:
- animal or plant based protein powder
- protein bar
- Greek yogurt
- cottage cheese
If you must have fats, try avocado, nuts, or nut butters. Or even some trail mix, if you are on the go.
Another important point is to remember to stay hydrated, before, during, and after the workout. A great article I wrote can be found here.
Your body needs water to function. Good hydration will sustain your workout, and may even enhance your performance.
I like to have about 500mL of water in a container that I mix with BCAAs, collagen, and creatine. I drink this throughout the workout to stay hydrated and focused on the exercises.
What About Supplements?
Creatine has been shown to increase muscle mass, strength, and power and also delay fatigue.
Caffeine may also increase your performance and help reduce fatigue during a workout.
Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) are essential to help decrease muscle damage and increase muscle protein synthesis.
As I mentioned earlier, I like to have my supplements while I am working out, mixed with water. Hydration and nutrients all in one!
So there you have it!
The choice is yours, of course.
If we are short on time, say a work day morning, we will get up, mix our supplements, and go downstairs to the gym and work out. Then we have protein shakes and a smoothie before work and eat a healthy lunch to aid recovery.
If we have more time, say a weekend morning, then we will have eggs and toast with avocado or oatmeal with fruit before the workout and then eat for recovery throughout the day.
Whatever works for you. Just be sure it is mostly whole foods with lots of protein and carbs sprinkled with the good fats.
As always, if you have questions or comments about my opinions, please leave them below.
Also, if you are a father (or mother) (or anyone for that matter) who would like an easy to follow program that includes a menu and work out information, check out this article from a few months ago.
Thanks for listening.
See you in the next post.
Have a great day!