Your energy level and your ability to recover from a workout are both greatly influenced by what you eat and when you eat it. A variety of sources, including food and supplements can provide fuel for your body’s needs, but not all are made equal, and if you intend to maximize your workouts, it’s important to find the right mix.
Your body is a piece of machinery, after all. And, like all machines, it requires the proper fuel in order to function properly — especially if you are physically active. But what types of food should you consume in order to maximize the benefits of your workout? We’ll, in this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know.
What To Eat Before a Workout?
Prior to working out, fueling your body with the right nutrients can provide the energy and strength you need to perform better.
How much food to eat and what kinds of foods to eat depend on the type, length, and intensity of the workout.
As far as pre workout calories are concerned, a good rule of thumb is to eat a mix of carbs and protein before you work out. The fat in your pre-workout meal should be eaten at least a few hours before you start your workout.
The human body is incredibly complex. But it doesn’t take a PhD to know that each macronutrient is different, and the amount of each you’ll need will depend on a whole host of factors, including the type of workout you do.
Macros are the main building blocks of diet and their role is extremely important. Here’s a quick rundown of the macro nutrients and the role they play in your diet:
Carbohydrates: When you eat carbs, your muscles use the glucose in them as fuel. When the body gets and stores glucose, it does so mostly in the liver and muscles. Glucose gives the cells energy when they do a lot of physical work.
But for longer exercise, the amount of carbs you consume will vary greatly based on many factors. First, it’s important to remember that muscle glycogen stores are finite.
Your workouts will be more effective if you fuel them appropriately. While you can eat whatever you want before working out, you should fuel your body before, during, and after the workout. Carbohydrates are the most effective way to fuel an intense workout and help your body recover afterward.
When you’re looking to get the most from your training, one of the best methods to increase muscle mass is through carb loading. In this method, a person increases their carbohydrate intake by consuming a high-carb diet for at least one to seven days before a workout.
Protein: Many studies have shown that eating a lot of protein before a workout can help you do better in terms of your workout performance. It’s been proven that eating protein (alone or with carbs) prior to exercise can increase muscle protein synthesis.
A study showed that people who consume 20 grams of protein 30 minutes prior to exercise have an anabolic response. This means they experience an increase in lean muscle mass.
Other benefits of protein supplements include: They can aid in muscle recovery, boost energy levels, and improve physical performance.
Fat: Glycogen is what fuels intense and short-duration bouts of activity, whereas fat is the source of fuel for longer and moderate to low-intensity exercise. Some studies have investigated the effects of fat intake on athletic performance. This particular study, however, looked at high-fat diets over a long period of time, rather than just prior to exercise.
For example, one study found that a diet of 40% fat for four weeks made endurance running times faster in healthy, well-trained runners.
Carbs help your body store as much glycogen as possible for high-intensity exercise, while fat helps your body run for a longer, less intense amount of time. Protein, on the other hand, improves muscle protein synthesis and helps with recovery.
Body functions depend on water and, in some cases, dehydration can impair them. While many people are aware that water is essential for good health, they may not be aware that drinking enough water actually improves their performance.
It’s recommended to drink 16-20 ounces of water at least four hours before exercise and 8-12 ounces of water 10-15 minutes before exercise.
Additionally, we recommend drinking a beverage that contains sodium to help retain fluid. Drinking water and sodium-containing beverages before exercise promotes fluid balance and prevents excessive fluid loss.
Post Workout Meal
You use the energy your body has stored up during a workout because your muscles require energy while you are working out. The best way to recover quickly is to eat foods high in protein after your workout (within 15 minutes) which will provide the amino acids your muscles need to recover.
This may also increase the energy your body puts into storage to draw from in the future. One way to replenish your carbs and fluids after a workout is to drink a post-workout smoothie.
The protein found in protein shakes is an excellent way to replenish your body after a workout. Protein is a building block of the muscles, and helps your body build muscle mass.
Many protein supplements are available. You should choose one that contains the protein you need to replenish your body after a workout. Some of the most popular brands are whey protein, casein protein, and soy protein.
Food To Stay Away From
If you can’t pronounce the ingredients on the product label, the better option is to pass it by. Most packaged foods have long lists of additives to keep you buying more. Try homemade options instead.
If you want to eat something processed, be sure to check out the list of ingredients. If you don’t understand more than three of these ingredients, avoid it entirely.
Some of the foods you should avoid post workout are:
Spicy Food: Spicy foods should be avoided after a workout as they increase muscle soreness and inflammation. Foods that are spicy, like chili peppers, can actually irritate the body in a way that can lead to more inflammation.
Foods that are high in sodium and carbohydrates should be avoided after exercise to avoid muscle cramps and gastrointestinal issues. The foods that are easiest to digest include fresh fruit, nuts, vegetables and whole grains.
Avoid Too Much Sugar: If you want to recover better, stay away from sugar. It will spike your blood sugar and make you crash hard afterwards. Instead, opt for healthy snacks like carrots and celery sticks.
No Alcohol After a Workout: Alcohol can be a great tool for celebrating successes and having a few laughs. But the problem with alcohol is that it slows down the repair process of exercise-induced muscle damage. Alcohol inhibits the production of certain hormones that are used to help your recovery after a workout.
Because alcohol is a diuretic, it will only delay your recovery if you are already dehydrated after a workout.
In the end, there is no one-size-fits-all. There are different diets that work for different people based on their goals, preferences, health concerns, etc. It’s all about finding something that works well for your particular needs.
The best time to start your weight loss is now. However, everyone is different and what works for one person may not work for another. Each person has a different way of recovering from weight loss or gaining muscle.
For most of us, athletes without athletic competition on the horizon, a diet with high quality protein, high quality carbohydrates, healthy fats, and some fruits and vegetables will always be a good idea.
Whole foods – the kind with no preservatives, additives, or artificial ingredients – are the ones that provide all the benefits of fruits and vegetables. And, yes, they really are the best kind of food you can eat.
Isn’t it true that you can eat real food or drink smoothies? And the amount of each macronutrient can be different depending on what you need and what you like and can handle.
In terms of timing, you have approximately one to two hours on either side of training in order to get maximum benefits from your workouts.
And, based on the most recent data, protein and carbohydrate consumption over the course of a day is far more important to lean muscle gain, fat loss, and improved exercise performance than any specific nutrient timing strategy.