Pre-workout and post-workout meals: Everything you should know about:
The purpose of a pre-workout meal is to fuel your activity and give your body what it needs to perform at its peak.
1. Timing of your pre-workout meal:
Avoid eating immediately before a workout. Not only can it cause digestive discomfort, but it creates competing demands on the body if your stomach is trying to digest food at the same time you’re pushing your muscles to perform. The ideal time to eat is between half-hour to three hours before your workout. That way you are not still digesting while hitting the gym floor, but you haven’t gone and spent all those helpful calories yet.
2. Drink water:
It may not cross your mind, but ensuring you’re well-hydrated before you exercise is very important, especially in hot conditions. A good place to start is drinking about two cups of water around 2 to 3 hours before exercise and one cup of water about 10 to 20 minutes before working out.
3. Take a snack which includes carbs:
Carbohydrates are fuel for your muscles. And, the harder your engine is working, the more carbs you need to keep going. When we eat them, they break down into glucose, enter our muscle cells, and provides us fuel to exercise at our maximum capacity. Your muscles store glucose glycogen-wise and make use of these reserves when you’re putting them to work. When it comes to what to eat before a workout, eating carbs before you exercise ensures that you are going to have extra glucose available if you need it to refill those glycogen stores.
4. Take a snack which includes protein:
Protein is what rebuilds and repairs, but also “primes the pump” to form the proper amino acids available for your muscles. When we do strength-training exercises like lifting weights, we create small tears in our muscle fibers. When you rest, your body repairs those micro-tears builds up your muscles bigger and stronger than they were before—and it needs protein to do it.
Some recommended pre-workout meals and snacks:
- Peanut butter and banana or PBJ sandwich
- Greek yogurt with berries
- Oatmeal with low-fat milk and fruit
- Apple and peanut or almond butter
- A handful of nuts and raisins
- Smoothie with fruit and protein powder
- A granola bar
- Baked salmon, brown rice, and roasted veggies
- Rice cakes topped with nut butter
Post-workout meals and their nutrition are more complex. Its purpose is to provide your body with everything it must repair, recover, and adapt to the training stimulus that the workout provided.
1. Dehydrate your body:
Restoring the fluids you lost while sweating as soon as you can is even more important than eating right away. You can weigh yourself before and after exercise and record both numbers. After your workout, drink 16 ounces of fluid for each pound you’ve lost.
2. Timing of your post-workout meal:
Within the first 60 minutes after your workout, or even better, within the first 30 minutes, you should have your meal. Post-workout, the body needs to receive vital nutrients to function properly. If you worked out hard, your body has just spent the energy it should have to function properly and at max capacity. If you aren’t able to eat a full meal right after your workout, have a snack, then a full meal a couple of hours later.
3. Refuel your carbs and protein:
Remember, you’ve used all the glycogen and torn up your muscles. Therefore your post-workout meal should be high in complex carbs that break down slowly and are loaded with healthy protein.
Complex carbs include:
- Brown rice
- Whole wheat bread
Healthy proteins include:
If you are an athlete then you need to take more protein in your diet:
When it comes to what to eat after a workout for athletes doing intense weight training for a long time (45 to 90 minutes), you’ll require more protein (especially if your goal is to create muscle).
How to determine your protein needs:
Divide all your weight by 2.2 to get kilograms. Multiply the answer by 0.4 and 0.5 to get a range of recommended protein amounts.
Some recommended post-workout meals and snacks:
- Post-workout recovery smoothie
- Low-fat chocolate milk
- Turkey on a whole-grain wrap with veggies
- Low-fat yogurt with berries
- 1 cup of chocolate milk
- 1 slice of whole-wheat toast with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter and half sliced banana
- 2 to 3 graham crackers with some peanut butter
- A protein-rich green smoothie
- A veggie omelet with avocado and a half cup of roasted potatoes
- 3 to 4 ounces of steamed trout with a baked sweet potato and sautéed spinach
It’s important to remember that any pre- or post-workout meal should be included as part of your recommended daily caloric intake. Many people mistakenly add on more calories since they will be burned off in the workout, but that leaves you neutral. You need to create a deficit in calories to lose weight. If you feel constantly hungry after starting a workout routine, it can mean that your daily recommended calories should be adjusted by a professional. And it’s probably not a good idea to experiment with any nutritional changes on a game or race day. Limit your diet changes to training.
While the importance of eating before a workout may vary, most scientists agree that it’s beneficial to eat after exercise. If you eat during the several hours before you work out, the nutrients you ingest may still be present in high concentrations in your blood during and after exercise. In this case, these nutrients can aid recovery. For example, amino acids can be used to build up proteins, while carbs can replenish your body’s glycogen stores. However, if you choose to exercise fast, your body has fueled your workout using its energy stores. What’s more, limited nutrients are available for recovery. In this case, it’s particularly quite important that you eat something relatively soon after exercise.