WHAT SHOULD I EAT BEFORE A WORKOUT?
Many studies have been conducted with regards to pre-workout nutrition. This type of information is crucial for competitive athletes and fitness competitors to get the edge in their training to achieve optimal results. But, what about the other 99% of us who just want to look a little better?
While our daily nutrient intake is important, the precise timing of our carbs, fats, and proteins are not as critical because our needs are basic: 1) increase lean muscle and 2) reducing body fat. For these basic goals we need to follow a few simple rules when it comes to our pre-workout meal:
- EAT a small amount of lean protein (chicken, fish, beef, etc.). It the basic necessity for building muscle and we need to consume it throughout the day.
- EAT some nuts (almonds, cashews, walnuts, etc.). They are easily digestible and are converted to energy for your workout.
- DON’T EAT fatty animal products (cheese, bacon, etc.). These types of fats are digested slowly and that can make you sluggish for your workout.
- DON’T EAT carbs (simple such as fruit or complex such as grains). If you have excess body fat then you already have plenty of glycogen stored up to be used as a boost during your workouts.
DISCLAIMER: With regards to rule #4 this DOES NOT pertain to athletes or fitness competitors. Your rules will be different than the average Joe/Jane trying to lose body fat.
WHAT SHOULD I EAT AFTER A WORKOUT?
You just finished your workout. You’re tried, sweaty, and you’re going to be sore over the next few days. That soreness will be for nothing if you don’t consume the right foods after your workout. Follow this list of DO’s and DON’Ts for your post workout meal:
- EAT protein*. If this hasn’t been beaten into your head enough then here’s your reminder. Protein is the building block of every cell in your body, including your muscles. In order for your muscles to grow you need to eat protein. Consume at least 20g in order for protein synthesis to kickstart.
- EAT carbohydrates. This is ONLY FOR ATHLETES! If you are trying to lose body fat then no carbs for you. Just protein. As for athletes if you are trying to stay lean then consume simple carbs low in fructose (kiwi, pineapple, water melon). If you’re trying to get stronger or become a larger athlete then consume complex carbs (whole grains, yams, sweet potatoes).
- DON’T EAT fat. I’m referring to healthy fats (you shouldn’t consume unhealthy fats any way). The reason? Fat digests slowly and we want to consume something that will spike our insulin levels. Fat doesn’t do that. It’s not bad but it’s not recommended.
- DON’T CONSUME caffeine. This includes coffee, tea, or any supplement (energy drinks should almost never be in your diet….unless you’re running a marathon). Caffeine spikes cortisol (stress hormone). After a workout we want our insulin levels to spike. This allows our body to replenish our energy stores and heal our bodies for our next workout.
*A lot of ‘broscience’ out there states we have to consume protein within 15-60 min. post workout to optimize protein absorption. While nutrient timing is important the majority of studies point to consuming protein throughout the day to optimize protein synthesis and help grow your muscles. So, if you can drink that protein shake post workout, do it. If you can’t, don’t freak out.