The world of exercise and nutrition can be daunting; there’s so much information available online, in books and through word of mouth that it can make your head spin. But eating right to make your workout count is even more important than dragging your behind to the gym, so it’s time to debunk the myths surrounding proper workout nutrition.
The timing of your pre and post workout meals is surprisingly important. Before a workout, you want to focus on getting enough to eat to give you the energy to crush your sets. This means eating 45 minutes to an hour beforehand; any closer, and you could risk cramping, nausea, and uncomfortable bloating. After you exercise, there’s a small window of time where eating can actually boost the effectiveness of your workout. Within an hour of leaving the gym, you should be eating or drinking a liquid supplement to help repair muscles and replenish energy stores.
These habits can help you reach your fitness goals faster and more effectively, which sounds pretty darn good. So, what should you be eating to look ripped in your favorite workout tank? Read on to find out exactly what your body needs before and after a workout.
We (mostly) know that you shouldn’t go to a workout hungry, or it can be hazardous to your health. But what most people don’t talk about is what you should eat before a workout, and that’s even more important. Not all food is made the same; some can derail your workout completely, while others can make it even more effective.
Protein: eating 20-40 grams of protein 30 minutes to an hour before working out will help your body build new muscle. Great sources of healthy protein include whey powder, lean chicken breast (try this fantastic chicken burrito recipe), fresh fish like salmon, and egg white scrambles.
Carbohydrates: while most people are terrified of carbs, they are scientifically shown to improve performance when consumed before a workout. When eaten 15-30 minutes prior to your workout, carbohydrates will give you the extra energy needed for a killer workout. That being said, it’s not an excuse to devour a loaf of bread: healthy carbs like bananas, oatmeal, sweet potatoes, and rice milk will give you the boost you need without the fat.
Protein: eating protein after your workout is essential for rebuilding muscle tissue, but you need to be careful as to what kind of protein you’re consuming. Because fats move more slowly through the digestive system, eating them in combination with protein could actually slow your protein digestion to the point where it misses the window to rebuild muscle tissue. Lean protein is essential, and the best way to get it right after your workout is through a liquid supplement. They’re easy to digest, nutrient dense, and quick to make (unlike most healthy whole foods).
Carbohydrates: because your body uses carbohydrates to fuel your workout, it makes sense that your store of carbs will be depleted after a solid sweat-sesh. Replacing it by eating carbohydrates after your workout will help restore energy levels and stimulate muscle repair. Eating the right amount of carbs is important: excess carbohydrates can lead to weight gain, instead of loss. Make your workout count by eating 0.8 grams of carbs per 1 kilogram of body weight.