Are you ready to take your workouts to the next level? We all know that nutrition plays a huge role in performance. So it’s only logical to pay attention to what you’re eating around the time of your workout if you’re wanting to improve performance. Generally, I’m not a huge fan of over-focusing on food timing. This is because the bigger picture (what you’re eating daily/weekly) is far more important. However, paying some attention to your pre and post workout nutrition can improve performance, aid in recovery and help you feel your best. Here are a few things to consider when it comes to pre and post workout nutrition.
Pre workout nutrition
I want to take a moment to encourage eating before a workout. Oh, and to quickly discuss the oh-so popular fasted cardio. Eating before physical activity is beneficial because it allows your muscles to store glycogen and provides energy to fuel you through your workout. There is no real benefit to working out in a fasted state; it is not superior for weight loss or performance. However, if you find that you personally feel better working out fasted, then go for it! But, to set the record straight, there is no evidence to support it being beneficial for any reason other than if you like it! However, this is a topic for another day. Ok, moving on. Carbohydrates are our bodies preferred fuel source. This makes them a key player in pre workout nutrition. Not only are they going to quite literally fuel your workout, they will also delay fatigue. Additionally, they are protein-sparing. So, by making sure you’re eating enough carbohydrates for your body to use as energy, it will prevent your body from using protein as an energy source. We don’t want to use protein as an energy source because we want to use protein for other important functions such as building and maintaining muscle! So, what kind of carbohydrates should you be eating before a workout? Before a workout we want “faster” digested carbohydrates–think rice, pasta, cream of wheat, etc. Because these types of carbohydrates are digested more quickly, we are able to utilize them when we need them. There are also a few things that you may want to avoid eating before a workout. It takes our bodies a longer amount of time to digest fat and fiber. Therefore, it may be beneficial to limit both of these things prior to working out. Lastly, how long before a workout should you be eating? This one can vary from person to person. But in general, you should shoot for eating within the hour before your workout.
Post workout nutrition
Now your workout is done, what should you do? Eat! You likely just depleted your muscle glycogen, so be nice to your body and restore that by eating carbohydrates. This is especially important if it has been a few hours since the last time you ate. Also, because we know that protein is used to repair your muscles, we want some protein too. And no, you do not need to immediately sprint home to chug your protein powder. Again, your overall/daily food intake is going to be more important here. However, these are a few things to keep in mind post workout.
With these things in mind, you can incorporate a few of these strategies to improve performance and feel energized throughout your workout. As with most things when it comes to nutrition, everybody is unique and nutrition needs will vary from person to person. This is general advice that will be helpful for a majority of people, but always listen to your body and fuel accordingly!