How To Eat Before, During and After Your Workout
Your pre, during and post workout nutrition is just as important as your actual workout. In order for your body to have the energy it needs to get a great workout and then to recover properly from that workout, you need to get the right amount of nutrients. You can achieve this through your normal food intake and proper supplementation. This article will talk about how to eat properly before and after your workout, and some helpful supplements to consume during your workout.
Your pre-workout nutrition sets the table for an intense workout. If you don’t provide your body with the proper combination of nutrients you may feel fatigued, weak and even break down muscle during your workout. Many people believe in working out and doing cardio first thing in the morning without eating. This is known as fasted exercise. The theory behind fasted exercise is that you will burn more fat because your body has less carbohydrates available to use. Fasted exercise is a bad idea. While it is true that your body burns fat if it doesn’t have any available glycogen, research shows that people who perform fasted exercise end up getting a less effective workout and/or cardio session because they become fatigued much faster. Fasted exercise is especially bad for weight lifting, because without the proper nutrients, you’ll lift significantly less weight, which will lead to significantly less growth. It’s also much more likely that you’ll experience nausea and dizziness. Most importantly, when your body doesn’t have enough glycogen for exercise, it begins to break down muscle, which is the absolute, LAST thing you want to happen. It takes a ton of hard work to build even one pound of lean muscle mass. Sacrificing that muscle mass is a huge mistake. Even if you’re able to burn more fat, if you lose a significant amount of your lean muscle mass, you’ll be VERY disappointed with your physique. Muscle mass is what gives you the full, fit, sexy look. Without it, you’ll look like a marathon runner – skinny-fat and sickly.
So What Do You Eat?
Pre-workout nutrition should consist of carbohydrates and protein. Ideally, fast absorbing carbs should be consumed about 30-60 minutes before exercise. Some good options include fruit, protein shakes and yogurt. Depending on your size, you’ll want to consume about 20-30g of high-glycemic carbs and 5-10g of protein. High glycemic carbs are easier for your body to digest and use. They also spike blood sugar, which leads to high insulin levels in the blood, which is good for muscle growth. The protein helps prevent muscle breakdown.
Try to avoid slower digesting carbs, such as high fiber fruits, anything wheat.. basically anything high in fiber. These foods are great for making you feel full, but they sit in your stomach and can make you feel some discomfort during exercise.
Nutrition for During Exercise
Typically, you’re not going to eat during exercise, but there’s a couple supplements you can take that will make a difference. During exercise, your focus should be on exercise. You need a good workout with limited distractions, but here’s a couple things that should help your progress.
1. Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) – BCAAs are great during your workout. Research shows that BCAAs prevent muscle breakdown, which is super important during exercise, and also improve protein synthesis, which can help you recover post workout. For a more detailed look at BCAAs, check out this article I wrote about the benefits of supplementing with BCAAs.
2. Water – Most people don’t drink enough water on a daily basis, and if you’re performing several high-intensity exercise bouts per week, it’s even more important. The Mayo Clinic states that a good amount of water per day is 107 oz (13 cups) for men and 72 oz (9 cups) for women.
Many of you may have heard about the all-important 45 minute window post-exercise to get your post-workout nutrients. While there is truth to this, the sooner you can replenish your body the better. The muscles need glycogen immediately after exercise, and within the first 60 minutes post-exercise, the muscles are more sensitive to insulin. This is why carbohydrates are so important, in addition to protein.
It’s crucial to consume 5-10g of high-glycemic carbs and 20-40g of protein post-workout.
Again nutrition proves to be just as important as regular exercise, and getting the proper nutrition at the RIGHT times is even more important. For a more detailed look into the different phases our bodies go through, check out this article by Dr. Len Kravitz. Follow these guidelines about pre during and post workout nutrition, avoid nutrition mistakes and you should see success with your exercise program.