Have you hit a plateau, not seeing the results you want with your fitness regimen? Are you ready to bring your training to the next level? What to eat pre and post workout can help maximize the benefit of the workout and extends those benefits all the way through the day and into your next training session, yet is one of the most overlooked areas of nutrition for most athletes.
To break it down simply…
– What you eat before (and if needed, during) your workout is crucial for fueling the workout itself and maximizing your performance throughout.
– What you eat after your workout is crucial for optimizing the recovery process (which basically begins as soon as your workout ends) and ensuring that your body has all of the supplies it needs in order to recover, adapt and improve the way you want it to.
Pre Workout Meal…
Consider this meal as the “energy or fuel” phase for your workout. On a basic level the purpose of this meal is to provide enough energy for you to optimally perform and maximize your workout. At times this may even include a during workout meal such as when you are long distance running or hiking for long periods of time. On a more complex level your pre workout meal helps reduce muscle glycogen depletion, reduce muscle protein breakdown and reduces post workout cortisol levels.
With that being said your pre workout meal needs to consist of 2 things…Carbs and Protein. If you are a numbers person there is a formula for this…For a 60-90 minute workout you need:
Protein = 0.25g per pound of your target body weight.
Carbs = 0.25g per pound of your target body weight.
Now I love working the formulas and tracking my numbers, but for me the novelty wears off in a week or two when real life catches up. So I make a list of good pre-workout meals and stick it in the inside of one of my cupboards. That way when I am pressed for time I don’t have any excuses to fall back on. Ideally you should have this an hour to two pre workout.
Post Workout Meal…
Whereas the pre workout meal is your “fuel or energy phase”, post workout is the “anabolic phase” or “rebuilding phase.”
The goals of the “rebuild” phase are to replenish muscle glycogen that was depleted during your workout, and to reduce the muscle protein breakdown. Additionally it helps to increase muscle protein synthesis, reduces muscle soreness and fatigue. This meal helps to greatly enhance overall recovery, and to reduce cortisol levels (reducing cortisol levels are always good).
So what should your post workout meal consist of? Carbs and protein. Sound familiar? The previous formula also still applies but the time period to consume them in is a little tighter. Your post workout meal should always be within 60 minutes of your workout but ideally 30 minutes. Whats excellent about your post workout status is that you are literally a sponge at this point absorbing far more carbs and amino acids from protein then any other time during the day. With that being said you can get away with eating much more fast absorbing carbs (higher glycemic index) post workout. Again I like to keep a list of foods that
fit this profile on hand so that I can prep my meals easily without too much thought.
So there you have it. Although a pre and post workout meal is not rocket science it is often one of the most overlooked areas that can help bring your results to the next level. Over the next week make no changes to your diet and take note of what you normally eat pre and post workout and how you feel during your session as well as after, and throughout the day. During the second week start making changes. Notice that more often then not you get your post workout meal in 2 hours later? Pack a shake that you only have to add water to. Small changes can yield big results.
Stay tuned for the worst foods to eat pre and post workout as well as my cupboard cheat sheet of my pre and post workout meals.