The Importance of Pre and Post-Workout Meals
The Importance of Pre and Post-Workout Meals
I used to think LESS was more, and by this I mean if I ate less, I’d have more results… WRONG. Fueling your body pre and post workout is more important than any other meal. If you don’t fuel your body before a workout, you wont have energy to have MAXIMUM performance. If you don’t fuel your body post-workout, you wont be optimizing recovery and building muscle. Both are KEY to muscle building and weight loss. We obviously need to take in consideration calorie intake and macros… but always try to fit these two meals in your daily food planning.
We all live busy lives, so having healthy snacks at hand is always hard. I take my snacks with me everywhere I go, this way I’ll have them at hand whenever I need them. I’m crazy with my eating schedule because all I do is think about eating and the next time I’ll be eating… go figure. If I don’t eat lunch at 1 and my snack at 4… someone’s going to be cranky. Timing is very important, especially for pre and post workout meals. If you eat too early or too late, you won’t be getting the same results.
To lose fat, build muscle, increase strength and improve performance we’re supposed to eat the right amount of protein, fats and carbs per day. A deficiency in any of these can definitely have an impact in your results. Pre workout meals are energy boosters and post-workout meals are for recovery.
Now lets break these down in detail.
There's a lot of misconceptions on what to eat before a workout, I read something different everyday. A pre-workout meal supplies everything our bodies will need for performance. If you go to the gym with no energy, you won’t be able to lift as heavy and perform as well… this is why our pre-workout snack is KEY. If you don’t eat before going to the gym, you’ve been doing it all wrong and need to start ASAP, you’ll feel the difference. I go to the gym for 2 + hours so if I don’t eat something I’ll be starving midway.
By eating a pre-workout snack, we're going to reduce muscle glycogen depletion. What does this mean? During exercise, the body converts glycogen into glucose which plays an important role in contracting muscles. This is where CARBS come into play. Glycogen stores have to be re-stocked with carbs so they don’t run out.
Pre-workout snacks also reduce muscle protein breakdown, meaning muscle growth can only happen if the production of protein increases protein breakdown… this is where PROTEIN comes into play. So much science to take in… I know. But it's useful to know.
So now it's pretty obvious what we’re supposed to be eating: Proteins and carbs.You can add fats as long as they fit in your macros.
Carbs fuel our bodies, help with recovery and preserve muscle glycogen, which increases muscle growth. If you’re one of those people who doesn’t eat carbs because you’ll get fat… PLEASE STOP. There’s good carbs and bad carbs and you need them for energy and to survive in general.
Protein helps maintain and increase muscle; it increases amino acid production in our blood, which boosts muscle building. A lot of people think that it’s all about eating protein to increase muscle mass… again…wrong. Start combining and start eating carbs and you’ll see the difference.
As I said before, timing is important, try to eat your pre-workout snack 30-60 minutes before your workout. Portions are important as well. As for carbs try eating ½ cups of fruits, whole grains or sweet potatoes. As for protein try to eat 20-40 grams of meats, fish, eggs, legumes, cheese or greek yogurt.
Eating after a workout is the most important. Feeding your body after burning all those calories helps it repair. Your body is in a building phase, meaning you need to replenish and recover. If you don’t feed your body it’s going to start using the protein in your body… and we don’t want that. I always get asked if taking protein supplements is necessary for muscle growth. In my opinion and personal experience, drinking whey protein powder after a workout is definitely necessary. It’s easier to hit your protein macro, plus it’s an easier way to eat protein right after your workout. Just pair your protein shake with a fruit and you got the perfect post-workout snack. So what do you need to eat right after your workout? Once again: protein and carbs.
By eating protein and carbs we are re-stocking glycogen that was depleted during our workout, reducing muscle protein breakdown and reducing muscle soreness and fatigue. Once you’re done working out I recommend eating no more than 30 minutes after. If you’re not about drinking whey protein powder, you can have breakfast, lunch or dinner depending what time you work out at. As long as you’re getting your protein and carb fix right after your workout, you’re good.
Fats don’t really play an important role in improving performance or increasing muscle for pre or post workout snacks but combining either fats, protein, and carbs as a pre-workout snack is also okay. You’re supposed to eat protein and carbs for MAXIMUM results, but for me, combining either one of them has also worked. I love eating apples with peanut butter or banana with peanut butter before a workout because I love peanut butter more than anything...literally could eat 5 jars of it per day but who's counting. Fats helps maintain blood glucose and insulin levels and slow digestion so you're fuller for longer…don’t eat too many fats or this will result in fat gain. If you’re going to eat fats, portions would be a fist full of nuts, half an avocado, salmon or a tablespoon of (unsweetened) nut butter.
If you workout and really want to see results you need to follow the proper diet or you’ll find it hard to see those abs you're working hard for. A good place to start is to start eating pre and post workout snacks and take it from there. You’ll feel more energized at the gym and will start feeling less sore in the morning. We all know what it feels like to wake up after leg day…NOT cool. Stop those zero carb diets and start eating the right amount of macronutrients your body needs for energy, muscle growth and repair.