you search “what to eat before and after i workout” on google and 2934873209847 things come up, none alike, and confusing you even more than you already are.
you want to be sure you’re doing it right. you want to make sure you don’t lose and ‘gains’ or not have enough energy to burn in order to not burn muscle if your carb and protein storage is depleted.
“am i getting enough carbs before i workout?” “did i eat too many carbs!?” “will i be all bloated and fat now because i read i was suppose to eat carbs before i workout?!” “do i need to take a protein shake with me to drink immediately after i workout?!?”
phew… i feel ya. been there done that. read every fitness magazines article on “omg THIS is what you need to eat before you workout”, then the next month it would be something TOTALLY different. Annoying.
so I set out to find the perfect pre and post workout fuel sources. I tested like 234098 different (ok maybe only like 10) different combinations to eat before i workout. some made me lethargic, some made me bloated, some were too ‘heavy’ on my stomach leading to nausea.
So you want to know EXACTLY what to take?! Are you ready?!
Well, obviously, I HAVEto give you a little more indepth look before I spill the beans.. because it wouldn’t be a Taylored Fitness post without me rambling some big words and fun facts! You’ll thank me later after the next time you CAN explain to someone why you’re eating that boring rice cake on your walk to the gym.
to get a better understanding of WHY what you fuel before and after a workout is so gosh darn important… think of your body like a car. Before a long road trip you need to fill ‘er up with gasoline. Then afterwards maybe you’ll have to get an oil change to keep that engine healthy and fueled. So, before a workout, you need to fill ‘er up! with carbs, protein and fat. A good balance. And afterwards you need to REPLENISH your body to help build back those muscle fibers you tore to shreads. Aka: “gains”. If you don’t replenish your body correctly, you won’t see results because you aren’t helping to “heal and restore” it. If you don’t fuel it properly you won’t see results because you 1. Don’t have the energy to put out as much as you truly can and 2. Your body will go into it’s “stores” and burn precious muscle NOT fat and carbs. You want to burn up those carbs before they turn INTO fat. Yuck.
Since your asking your muscles to work hard and produce a very strong contraction, they need access to fast-burning energy: which is what those carbs do!! (good carbs people, don’t go downing a big double cheeseburger). Compared to fats and proteins, carbs offer your bad ass muscles pure sugar that it can immediately use for producing energy, or ATP. Yes, your muscles can still use fats and proteins to produce energy, which then suually converts them into useable forms of sugars, fats or amino acids, but the issue ist hat this process takes a longer time to complete and isn’t your body’s favorite way to make energy for high-intensity exercise.
Before a heavy lifting session, I always try to have at least 2 meals under my belt. Both with complex carbs in them (think oats or sweet potatoes). The first meal will allow my carbs to get digested and go to work, making sure my blood sugar levels are up and glycogen levels are full prior to training. The 2nd meal a few hours before I workout. Then one carb snack 40 minutes prior to working out.
Protein and amino acids are also important pre workout. To provide fuel more quickly, amino acids are rapidly broken down and converted to sugar in a process called “gluconeogenesis”. If amino acids aren’t in the blood supply, guess where they come from? YUP those guns you’ve been working oh-so hard on. Therefore, adding a scoop of aminos to your water bottle pre and intra workout, is SUPER important. I personally don’t like to drink pre workout protein shakes (ever), so I take BCAAs instead.
POST: protein, protein, PROTEIN is SO essential to repairing torn muscle. whey protein includes BCAAs and is fast absorbing, hense it’s the most popular used one.
if i had an intense session (aka leg day) then i’ll throw a carb in post workout just to keep my body fueled as it continues to torch calories and growwwww.
CARBS are also very important post workout. “but won’t that just make me fat and reverse all my hard work i did in the gym?!” – NO. When you train hard you reduce your blood sugar level considerably. Eating carbohydrates straight after a training session provides your body with an insulin spike. This insulin spike puts your body into an anabolic (aka muscle building) state. If you do not get the right nutrients after training it’s possible that your body could enter a catabolic (which is muscle breakdown) state. This is why RE fueling yourself after a workout with the right things is so important.
Ok – so there you have it. now.. WHAT do you eat before and after?!
that is if you haven’t dozed off yet 😉
My go to’s for BEFORE a workout (give it 20 minutes to start digesting):
1. 2 rice cakes smothered in peanut butter – good carbs and fats
2. a bowl of greek yogurt and a banana – good carbs with some protein
3. a sweet potato with a dab of peanut butter
of course i take 2 BCAA pills and some preworkout to get me in the zoneeeeeee!
AFTER(within 30 minutes of working out):
1. 1 scoop protein powder, 5 ice cubes, water and a blender (i ONLY drink my protein if I know i won’t have access to food for awhile)
2. a big ‘ol plate of scrambled eggs-definitely my go to. especially if it’s an evening workout and the dinner i’m making will take over an hour to prep/be done.
3. a big bowl of greek yogurt
4. chicken and a sweet potato
and, again, i take 2 BCAA pills and 2 Glutamine pills. gotta keep those muscles happy and growing!!
Well there you have it. all that explanation for an easy-peasy list that you can remember next time you’re headed out the door to the gym.