Pre and Post Workout Meal
As the saying goes, “You cannot out-train a bad diet”. What you eat, and when you eat it, has direct consequences on your ability to work out. Most of us can commit an hour of our time to a strenuous workout. But eating right is a full time task that is much harder to keep up with.
The meals that you have leading up to and after your workout play a huge role on the effectiveness of the same workout. This holds true regardless of how experienced you are, or what kind of workout you are doing. Beginners and veterans alike need the right fuel to power their exercise.
Additionally, every form of training has differing nutrition needs. Different types of exercise activate processes in the body that only a specific type of nutrients can reinforce. The meal you consume before a cardio session should be different from what you eat before weight training. Remember that you need to alter your diet not just keeping your personal needs and preferences in mind, but also your gym workout routine.
What to eat before a workout
Carbohydrate-rich food is important before a workout. They are stored as muscle glycogen reserves and promote a longer duration of performance by delaying the fatigue time. In short they give you energy and increase your endurance.
If you are lifting weights, protein is a must. Lifting weights leads to the muscle fibers tearing. Protein stimulates the production of new fibers and tissues which lead to an increase in muscle density and strength.
The timing of your pre-workout food should be anywhere between 30 minutes and 2 hours prior to your exercise. The larger the interval between the two, the larger your meal. A small snack is sufficient 30 mins before, but if you are having a meal ensure that there is enough time for the food to get properly digested.
Fruits such as bananas and apples are popular pre-workout snacks. Bananas have potassium which aids in maintaining nerve and muscle function. Both apples and bananas have natural sugars which slowly release vitamins throughout the body, as a result making you feel more awake.
Another favourite is peanut butter and bread. Peanut butter has plenty of fiber as well as some protein, while whole-wheat high-fiber bread packs enough carbohydrates to sustain your workout.
Oats are a staple in many bodybuilders diets. Rich in carbs and fibre, oatmeal makes a filling pre-workout meal.
Eggs, or just egg whites are a cheap, easily available source of protein. Paired with a whole-wheat bread, or eaten just by themselves, they are a must-have.
Alternatively, if you are running out of time or don’t feel like eating much, you could always make a smoothie. These can be had up to 45 minutes before weight training. Mix up fruits like apples and bananas with nuts, almonds and oats, along with milk or plain yogurt. Add in half a scoop of whey protein and sprinkle on some Stevia for the perfect pre-workout drink.
What to eat after a workout
Eating after a workout is imperative to replenish the glycogen and electrolytes that have been depleted while exercising. Your post-workout meal must have a combination of both carbohydrates and proteins. These macronutrients facilitate muscle hypertrophy, where the muscles strengthen due to protein synthesis
Whey protein mixed with a cup of water is a great choice immediately following your workout. It delivers protein immediately to your system, which is essential for muscle recovery after weight training. Not only are protein shakes convenient, but they have the added benefit of tasting great as well.
For a post-workout meal, include chicken breast, fish, cottage cheese, or tofu. Each contains lean protein and can be cooked and served in a variety of ways. White and brown rice are great sources of fast-acting complex carbohydrates. Add some vegetables and you have the perfect post-workout meal for optimum recovery.
The nutrition you supply to your body can be the difference between you struggling out there and you achieving your maximum physical potential. The sooner you buckle down and get your pre and post workout meals right, the better your chances of progress.
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