People seem to be confused or overthink what to eat before, during, and after workouts. This makes things more complicated than they should be. So, we have decided to write an article that will get the workout nutrition explained.
There are many questions to answer here. Should you eat before you go to the gym, or should you workout hungry? If you do eat, should you go for proteins or complex carbs? We all know that your diet should be diverse, but what should you eat at what time?
Things you eat can influence both your energy levels and recovery time. Therefore, if you find yourself exhausted and in need of energy during a training session, nutrition is what you should improve. Although we won’t be dissecting diet today, you will undoubtedly learn a thing or two.
The basics of workout nutrition
Most people exercise for general health. And if you’re one of these, the first thing you need to do is look at what your daily diet consists of. Before we can dive any further, you need to understand the basics.
And right from the start, we want you to pay attention to avoiding processed foods. Eat them as little as possible. Instead, focus on meat and vegetables. However, even with these, you must pay attention to quantities. Try to achieve a balanced intake of protein, vegetables, carbohydrates, and fats.
Additionally, determine how much you should eat based on your activity level. Think about your body composition goals and make decisions accordingly. If you want to gain weight, you need to eat more, and if you’re going to lose it, you should eat less. It’s as simple as that.
Before the workout, you should concentrate on foods that will help your performance and recovery. The ideal time you should aim for is about three hours before hitting the gym. And reasons for this are simple.
You want your stomach to process the meal before you start your squats and running uphill. This way, you get the energy but don’t have to deal with food sitting in your stomach while you’re working out.
And when it comes to deciding what to eat, try to focus on foods that will provide the following:
- Performance boost
- Sustained energy
- Muscle mass preservation
- Quick recovery
Be aware that protein will help you to build muscle mass. On the other hand, carbohydrates will give you the energy to plow through the training and help you recover afterward. Fats won’t help you with anything besides slowing down your metabolism. This will maintain even sugar levels, which is good for working out.
The longer before the session you eat, the bigger meal you can have. However, if you miss the ideal time, and if you have to eat just before the training, you can add coffee to the mix. Although caffeine is a matter of debate, it can improve both your mood and performance.
During the workout
Eating during the workout is not a common practice. However, it can be beneficial in some circumstances. That’s the reason why we want to talk about it in our workout nutrition explained. Of course, we’re not talking about short spinning or pilates classes here.
You should consider intra workout nutrition, as experts call it, only if you’re into long endurance activities. So, if you’re dealing with things like long runs or long weight lifting sessions, you can include this into your routine. Generally, this kind of refueling is necessary for activities planned to last for more than two hours.
As you can see, this will benefit you only if you’re extremely active. However, working toward some exceptional performance or aesthetic goal can also be a good reason for it.
There are a couple of points that you want to tackle with your post-workout meal, and these are:
- Kickstarting recovery
- Building muscle mass
- Improving performance
Similar to what we have talked about before, you want to have a well-balanced meal here as well. And make sure that you don’t immediately jump to protein shakes. These will not necessarily help your digestive system.
We know it’s a good practice to eat as close to the end of your training as possible. However, researches have shown that this is not obligatory. As it turns out, you can wait for a home-cooked meal and not lose any of the gains you have made in the gym. The thing is that the protein you ate beforehand is probably still in your system. So, you don’t have to rush for a new portion.
Now, we need to stress that you should avoid refined sugars at all costs after a workout. A doughnut might seem like the thing you need and want, but it won’t do you any favors. To restore your glycogen stores, turn to the fruits. So, stock up on bananas, sweet potatoes, and dates to ensure the best performance.
As health-related things usually are, all the things we have said can’t be taken for granted. One size won’t fit all, and you’ll need to tweak it to make it work for you. But, if you know everything about the new nutrition facts label, this will be a great framework to start with.
Just remember that you have two hours before and after the training for your meals. If you fit everything into this timeframe, you won’t have any problems with reaping the benefits.
For most of us, a meal with a good balance of protein, carbohydrates, and fats will be enough. You can also use shakes if that is more convenient for you.
And that’s workout nutrition explained for you. Enjoy your training.