What should I eat before and after working out?
Pre-Work Out Meal
A big fitness myth that has been floating around forever is that working out on an empty stomach will help you burn more fat. It seems like everyone is spouting this myth, but the truth relies on science.
The rationale behind this widely accepted myth is that forgoing food before exercise will force your body to burn more fat during your workout. This is a big, fat lie: Starving yourself before exercising can actually be detrimental to your body. Let’s get to the bottom of this fitness myth once and for all.
You need sugar to exert energy. Your body needs a certain amount of sugar for fuel when training. When that blood sugar is not there, your body will convert your own muscle tissue into energy. A study published in the Strength and Conditioning Journallooked at cyclists who ate before they trained versus those who fasted before they trained. The amount of fat burn was the same for both groups, but those who had trained without eating first had 10 percent of their calorie burn come from protein — including their own muscle mass. You’re trying to build muscle, not eat away at it!
Your body needs energy to perform at a high intensity. You should you to work out as hard as you can for as long as you can. How can you do that if you haven’t properly fueled your body? Think about it this way: Would you drive a car without gas? Use your iPhone without charging it? Nope and nope. If you haven’t eaten anything, your workout won’t be as intense as if you’d fueled up beforehand, not to mention that you’ll likely suffer from low blood sugar, which will make you dizzy and sluggish.
You don’t need to gorge yourself; a healthy snack will do the trick. I suggest you eat something 45 minutes to an hour before training — you’ll have more energy and endurance to work harder, burn more calories, and improve your muscle tone. Aim for something with carbohydrates and protein. Here are a few quick, healthy snack ideas: a whey shake, low-fat yogurt with berries, or apple slices with natural almond butter.
Post-Work Out Meal
Thinking about rewarding yourself for a good workout with a nice, juicy cheeseburger? Well, don’t. The food you eat after hitting the gym just may be the most important food you eat all day. See, muscles store excess energy in the form of glycogen and protein and, when you work out, the body burns fuel from your pre-workout meal, then it breaks down glycogen stored in muscles. Within a few hours of working out, muscle protein drops and muscles begin to break down. However, within a 45-minute window, your body is the most responsive with absorbing carbohydrates and protein. Here are the best foods to fuel and reload the depleted muscles.
Protein is essential for tissue growth and repair. Since the body is continuously breaking down proteins, our diet must provide sufficient quantities. Although recommended intakes vary and depend on body size and activity, a post-workout protein is almost universally helpful to kickstart muscle repair, recovery, and growth.
Whey protein is incredibly popular because it is rich in BCAAs, digests quickly, is highly bio-available, and has a perfect Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score. While whey is excellent after a workout, recent research suggests that a combination of fast- and slow-digesting proteins—like whey and casein—may provide the ultimate post-workoutprotein cocktail.
Greek Yogurt: Greek yogurt has double the amount of protein compared to regular yogurt and is a great source of carbohydrates. Mix it with cereal or fruit. Fresh berries pack micronutrients, which have been proven to help fight muscle soreness.
Sandwich wraps: Wholegrain wraps are loaded with wholesome carbohydrates. Make yourself a turkey or chicken sandwich and add a bowl of soup on the side. This is a particularly great meal if you work out during your lunch break. If you’d rather have a salad after the gym, make sure you add some grains. You need whole grains, so add some quinoa, brown rice, beans or pasta.
Fruit salad Fruits are not only loaded with carbohydrates, they also contain enzymes to help your body break down nutrients so they can be delivered to your tired muscles. Pineapple is also known to have anti-inflammatory properties to help your muscles recover. Kiwi aids with digestion and helps break down amino acids. “Plus, fruit offers a rainbow of anti-oxidants. BE CAREFUL HERE BECAUSE OF THE SUGAR CONTENT.
Wholegrain breakfast cereal Cereal is good any time of day: In the morning for breakfast or later in the day as a snack. Select a high protein, high fiber cereal, like Kashi Golean, which offers 30 grams of carbohydrates, 13 gram of protein and 10 grams of fiber. It’s perfect for reloading the muscle energy stores. Make it more of a substantial snack and add dairy—milk or yogurt.
It all comes down to the carbohydrates and protein. They’re the two key things your body needs—and right after you work out is when your blood circulates best. If you’re main goal is to build muscle, eat at least 30 grams of protein and 30 to 35 grams of carbs within 15 minutes of your workout.