Pre and post exercise nutrition is vital in getting the best out of your exercise and, if you’re not getting the right nutrition, you could be completely undermining your exercise and workouts. Ultimately, your goals affect the combination of pre and post exercise nutrition that is right for you and this article looks at the basics for two typical fitness regimes.
If your aim is to put on muscle and build strength, pre and post exercise nutrition is potentially as important as what you do in the gym. Be sure to eat a meal rich in protein and complex carbohydrates about an hour before your workout to ensure your body is fuelled up and ready to take the punishment you’re about to inflict upon it. Whole grain bread, rice and oats will contain the carbs your body needs to last the hour in the gym. As you’re eating an hour or so before, the complex carbs will break down and be slowly released throughout your workout.
After your workout, it is essential to consume some form of protein within 15 to 20 minutes. This is best taken in the form of a shake as your body can process the fluid faster than say a protein bar. The protein will help repair the small tears in your muscle that weight lifting has caused, meaning your muscles can grow. The faster you do this, the more effective the workout will be.
Your muscles also need to carbohydrates to replace the drained fuel source. Carbs are essential for putting on muscle, a fact a lot of people neglect.
The likes of creatine are also great pre and post workout to increase your endurance in the gym. Maintaining high levels of creatine in your body can increase your maximum power and endurance by up to 15% some studies suggest. Take creatine pre and post workout. If you’re on a rest day, take a serving with breakfast and then your evening meal.
All in all you should be taking around 20 – 25% more calories on a workday than on a rest day.
Alternatively, if you’re aiming to lose weight, nutrition is still essential. If you’re looking to lose a lot of weight, consider exercising on an empty stomach although this advice is really only for the very overweight. Otherwise try a protein shake that’s low in calories but rich in essential fatty acids. Around 20 minutes before the workout eat a banana for a burst of energy whilst your workout.
Post workout, if you can, eat a meal with a balance of lean protein and healthy carbs. As you body will be in a catabolic state and rapidly use up any fuel you give it. Eating soon after a workout also prevents muscle breakdown.