Let’s talk about Pre and Post Workout Nutrition: Are you fueling your body for maximum results?
If you exercise regularly, then I’m sure one you have one or more of these goals: Lose fat, build muscle, increase strength, and improve performance, increase health and vitality. It is important to keep in mind that you cannot out train a bad diet or the wrong diet for that matter. If you want to reach any of these goals, proper nutrition is 70-80% of the battle. This includes eating the right amount of calories, with the proper ratios of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins daily. It also means eating the right amounts and varieties of these macronutrients around your workouts.
Preworkout nutrition is what you eat before. Well, FOOD IS FUEL. This is critical for powering the workout itself and maximizing your performance throughout. Your body is like a car. Would you go to a race or on a long trip on empty? I bet not because you would not make it very far or obtain the speed you need.
So now you are wondering what’s the magic formula to optimize my workout? The purpose of the preworkout meal is to reduce muscle breakdown and glycogen depletion, and sustain you through the allotted time with enough strength and endurance to get a good, solid session in. The macronutrients that are of most importance here: carbohydrates and protein. Because we are a busy society and not everyone can follow strict guidelines to eating habits, there is more than 1 way to make this meal happen for you. These are the guidelines I have my clients follow to ensure they don’t show up for a short, low energy session:
1. If you are eating 60-90 minutes prior to your workout, eating a solid meal containing a lean protein (lean beef, chicken, egg whites, fish) and healthy, low glycemic carb source such as oats, yams, brown rice, etc.
2. If you need to eat within 30 minutes of your workout, go for something fast digesting such as liquid. This means something such as a protein shake, Greek yogurt, or liquid egg whites. And always include a fast digesting carb source like honey, banana, rice cakes, or dried fruit. You could even blend your oats and add them to a shake. A good idea… just think: DRINKABLE.
3. Limit you fats around your workouts. Fats slow digestion, increasing the time it takes to get those good nutrients to your muscles for use and can cause stomach upset from food left in your belly. Fats coming from your protein and carb sources are fine, but stay away from added fats and oils. Save things like nuts, nut butters, oils, avocados, etc. for your other meals.
4. The preworkout meal should contain about 0.25 grams per pound of desired body weight of both protein and carbs. This is usually about 30 grams of carbs and 30 grams protein for a 130 pound woman. Or 40 grams of each for 160 pound man.
Postworkout nutrition is vital for your body to replenish lost minerals, electrolytes, and glycogen stores. It also helps in repairing muscle breakdown from exercise, limiting soreness and fatigue, and reducing cortisol levels. All these processes are part of recovery, allowing your body to adapt to more advanced workouts, and achieving your fitness goals the right way.
To make this even more painless for you to plan…guess what?! You can need the same thing post workout as you did prior. That means carbohydrates and protein, with limited fats. The only strict rule here, eat within 30-45 minutes after your workout! And the guidelines for portion sizes are the same as pre workout with a few extra carbs. You can adjust this to how intense or lengthy your session was so about 0.25-0.5 grams per pound of ideal body weight.
My favorite postworkout meal is whey isolate powder mixed into 8 ounces of coconut water (great way to replenish electrolytes), and I eat a small sweet potato.
Eating right around your workouts can make all the difference in achieving your goals. Your body needs to replenish, recover, and repair in order to make adaptations. So feed your body right and keep it simple. Do not worry about specifics or supplementation until you figure out the food timing and portions first. Now go make your workouts count and don’t skip these meals! Fuel your fitness!!!