Your daily food intake is as much if not even more important than your daily training. So it’s important to train smart and also eat smart. That’s why today we are going to focus on what to eat before and after a workout. I'm going to go over my favorite pre and post workout snacks and also go into a little detail about pre and post workout foods.
If you’re looking to perform and train at your best, you need to make sure your body has enough fuel to do so. If you fail to provide yourself with the energy and nutrients required during exercise, the chance are you won’t see results as quickly as you should and over a long period of time your likelihood of becoming ill or injured will be increased.
Benefits of Eating Pre-Workout
1. Gives you more energy:
We use carbohydrates and glycogen as the first source of fuel. This is because carbohydrates and stored glycogen can be converted into ATP energy faster than all other macronutrients. Therefore, filling up your glycogen stores pre workout will mean you’ll have more energy to perform at your best.
3. Prevent muscle catabolism:
When we exercise if glycogen stores are quickly used up and depleted the body looks for new sources of energy- our muscles. By breaking down hard earned muscle the body can utilize amino acids for energy! This is BAD as it puts our bodies in to catabolic state which can prevent muscle growth and recovery.
4. Increases Muscle Anabolism:
Eating the right foods for pre workout means you cannot only top up your glycogen stores, but by eating a good source of protein you’ll also be able to promote protein muscle synthesis and create an anabolic environment in the body.
It is ideal to eat a snack containing simple carbohydrates 30-40 minutes before your workout or a full meal 1-2 hours before containing a balance of good source of protein, complex low GI carbohydrates and fats.
Pre-workout snack/meal ideas:
Protein shake with fruits;
Oatmeal bowl with fruits;
Banana/Apple with peanut butter;
Rice with vegetables and protein.
In every meal you need to consider the three macronutrients carbohydrates, protein and fats.
Fats are slowly digesting. This means instead of making you energetic, they can actually make you feel sluggish and heavy. So it’s not ideal to consume a lot of fat for pre-workout.
By consuming a good source of protein before a workout you can give your body the amino acids- branched chain amino acids in particular, that it needs to prevent muscle breakdown, whilst aiding muscle recovery and growth.
There are two types of carbohydrates simple, high GI carbohydrates and complex, low GI carbohydrates. It depends on your goal and the time of your pre workout meal. Simple carbohydrates are great for 30 minutes to an hour before a workout as they provide the body with fast acting glucose as fuel. However, complex carbohydrates also play a role within your energy metabolism. By consuming low GI carbohydrates around 2-3 hours before a workout, you can give your body a slow releasing source of energy. This means you’ll be able to work out for longer and less likely to crash and burn in the middle of your training.
What to eat for Post-Workout
To understand how the right foods can help you after exercise, it’s important to understand how your body is affected by physical activity. When you’re working out, your muscles use up their glycogen stores for fuel. This results in your muscles being partially depleted of glycogen. Some of the proteins in your muscles also get broken down and damaged.
After your workout, your body tries to rebuild its glycogen stores and repair and regrow those muscle proteins. Eating the right nutrients soon after you exercise can help your body get this done faster. It is particularly important to eat carbs and protein after your workout.
Doing this helps your body:
Decrease muscle protein breakdown;
Increase muscle protein synthesis (growth);
Restore glycogen stores;
Your body’s ability to rebuild glycogen and protein is enhanced after you exercise. it has been shown trough researches that nutrient absorption aids 30-45 minutes after your workout and food is digested quicker.
If you are not able to eat a full meal after a workout you should at least eat a snack to hold you over. But DON’T skip a meal. Also make sure to drink a lot of water after a workout to replenish from the water you have lost while sweating.
Post workout meal ideas:
- Rice with vegetables and protei
- Pasta with vegetables and protein
- Sweet potato with a salad
- Fruit and protein shake
- Whatever your heart desires
At the end of the day it is important to listen to your body and fuel it right. Don’t skip meals or restrict yourself in order to lose weight because that will harm you more than benefit you.
Today’s tip: Train smart and eat smarter.