Here at freemyme, as trainers, we often encounter many people saying that they’ve either not eaten since lunch time or they’ve eaten something that could end up being counterproductive to the efforts that they would have put into a session or simply, not knowing what to eat or when to eat it.
Now I’m sure that we all know what we eat is important, but so is when we eat it.
As a total foodie, fitness lover and Bikini Fitness athlete, I couldn’t resist but touch base here, on the fundamental factors of pre-workout and post workout nutrition, and the simplest reason behind them.
Nutrient timing actually gives a framework for making wise food decisions and controlling your total food intake. When it comes to gearing up for your workout, carbs are not be feared here! They’re your gym BFF. The key is to have a combination of complex and simple carbs, so that the release of energy during your workout is slow and steady throughout your whole routine. Just think about it, high-performance racecars rely on the finest equipment and premium grades of fuel to run most efficiently, so why would our internal body mechanisms be any different?
It’s important to fuel your muscle and strength–building efforts with clean, nutritious, high-quality foods to maximize your performance and potential muscle growth (gains).
So, let’s get down to brass sticks… what to eat and why?
Though your metabolism and body type help determine the exact quantity of nutrients you may need to burn from that meal, you want to consume a pre-workout meal that’s equal parts fast-digesting carbs and protein to fuel your muscles and literally jumpstart muscle growth and repair.
The best time would be 30-60 minutes before your training session in order for the nutrients to be readily available to fuel your workout, and even give you a kick-start to your post-workout recovery process.
Opt for slow releasing carbohydrates/energy sources before your session; such as Wholegrain Rice, Sweet Potatoes, Bananas (Which is a fast & slow releasing energy source).
Combine these with a good source of protein.
Starchy carbs like low-fiber white rice and other fast digesting sugars – combined with fast-digesting protein like whey protein isolate or egg whites, white fish (if you prefer whole foods) which are easily and quickly digested and their effect on insulin is exactly what your body requires after training, in order to shuttle into muscle cells alongside sugar molecules.
It’s also all about trial and error and seeing what your body best responds to. There’s no cookie-cutter diet for anyone out there and it doesn’t have to be ultra technical, as long as you understand the basic fundamentals of how to eat.
WHAT SHOULD I EAT BEFORE MY WORKOUT?
Before you Workout, you’ll need to consume foods that help you:
- Sustain energy
- Boost performance
Eating Protein before you train will:
- Floods your bloodstream with Amino acids just when your body needs them most
- Preserve muscle mass, reduce muscle damage and speed recovery
Eating Carbs before exercise:
- Fuels your training and helps with recovery
- Preserves muscle and liver glycogen
- Stimulates the release of insulin (so if you don’t want to get crazy cravings – you need to make sure you eat your carbs!)
Eating Fats before training:
- Does help to slow digestion which maintains blood glucose and insulin levels.
- Provide some vitamins and minerals, which are also essential in one’s diet.
WHAT SHOULD I EAT AFTER TRAINING?
Post-Workout Nutrition helps you:
- Build muscle and improve future performance
Eating protein after exercise prevents protein breakdown and stimulates synthesis, leading to increased or maintained muscle tissue. So it’s a great strategy for better recovery and other benefits.
When it comes to carbohydrates, a blend of minimally processed whole food carbohydrates, along with some fruit (to better restore or maintain liver glycogen) is actually a better choice, because:
- It’s better tolerated;
- It restores glycogen equally over a 24-hour time period; and
- It might lead to better next-day performance.
Finally, it has been proven to best avoid fats after exercise as they slow down the digestion process, hence better as a pre-workout in order to gradually release energy throughout your training.
If you’re a male, here’s what your meal might look like:
If you’re a female, here’s what your meal might look like:
Again, the quantities may vary according to activity levels, as someone who is training for long distance running will need more carbohydrates than one who is about to train for a 45 minute session.
Here are a few of my favorite
Pre Workout and Post Workout Meals:
Lean Red Meat (Slow digesting Protein Source as your Pre-workout) You could even opt for Salmon as a Post-Workout which has bioactive peptides, small protein molecules that play a role in inflammation reduction, helping to regulate insulin levels and give you joint support – with Sweet Potato (Which packs in those complex carbs as well as help to restore glycogen levels, which get depleted after a workout) and of course, a small side of your vegetables.
Rye Bread with Natural, organic Peanut Butter and sliced banana.
Bananas are perfect in raising potassium levels, which drop when you sweat a lot. Tip: Adding a dash of cinnamon has been proven to stabilize blood sugar, as well as improve brain function. This is great at any time. I personally, tend to avoid fats after training.
Pre-Workout/Post Workout Meal:
Your Choice of Whey Protein (Mine is USN Pure Gf-1 which has a fast and slow releasing effect – I like to use Whey ISOZERO Isolate Protein too which is easy on the stomach) with a banana for some fast sugars and slow release energy sources too. Keeps you full and energetic. If it’s a pre-workout, I might splotch a TBSP of Almond Butter for some healthy fats and lip-smacking flavor.
Greek Yogurt & Granola Parfait with fresh berries/fruit. Why not get creative and try freezing the yoghurt with blended or whole fruits – then dipped in about 30g 70%+ Dark Chocolate (each popsicle). Cravings – be gone!
White Fish (Quick absorbing protein) cooked in cumin curry, herbs and spices with rice (White rice to spike insulin after training – or opt for whole meal rice for a slower release carbohydrate source) and don’t forget your veggies! You need your fiber.
These Pita Pockets are mouth-watering! Your filling could range from grilled salmon with a homemade Tzatziki Dressing, A Chili Con Carne or even a Chicken or Beef Stir-Fry. Just get creative! As a post workout, your body is in recovery mode, so you need a nutrient dense dish!
This can be your choice of Breakfast, Pre-Workout or Post-Workout!
My Ultimate Favourite:
The oats are a slow releasing carbohydrate, so it gradually releases sugar into your bloodstream, whereas the fruit or honey would give that jump-start and also increase the fluid content of your pre-workout snack, keeping you hydrated.
All you need:
40-60g Gluten free Oats (You could add some sliced banana if you’d need/want more carbs) whisked in with 3-4 egg whites
Cinnamon, vanilla essence (optional) and finally, either 65g Blueberries or 15g Honey (on top or in the mixture itself).
Cook on low heat and cover for 10-15 minutes, turn over and cook until golden brown.
This is also an idea of what your daily balanced food plate should look like:
The above food tips are just a fraction of my tried and tested recipes.
The choices are endless and it really, just boils down to knowing your foods and then using them in your own creative ways. Eating healthy food doesn’t have to be boring, especially if you use the right seasoning and spices to bring beautiful flavor to your chosen dish. It also doesn’t mean you need to entirely eliminate the foods you enjoy eating. You may just need to tweak your nutritional lifestyle and you’ll be amazed with the results!
Remember, you really are what you eat and a happy gut is a happy and healthy, overall you!
For more guidance, stay tuned to FREAK WEEK, http://www.freemyme.com/freak-week/
Starting March 7th
More Fit Tips Coming Soon Only at freemyme.
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Portion Food Image obtained from Precision Nutrition.
Credits to PURE Health Bar – High Street Sliema and Raymond Cassar Photography.