What we eat before and after training is crucial. There is often confusion about what foods can help with recovery and achieving our goals. But it can be difficult to find a simple, easy-to-understand summary of what goes on in your body when you train: why it matters what kind of training you do, how this influences what you eat before and after, and how this all relates to what you should include on your shopping list.
NUTRITION CAN TAKE YOUR TRAINING TO THE NEXT LEVEL
The body needs energy to function and perform during training. When you consume the three main macronutrients (carbohydrates, fat, and protein), the body gains energy in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). This is the major source of energy for our body. If energy is not needed, it is stored in the form of phosphocreatine, glycogen, and fat. Depending on the intensity level and speed of the workout, you will need a boost of energy, which you will get from the ATP.
WHAT TO EAT BEFORE WORKING OUT?
- Eat a hearty meal two to three hours before a cardio session.
- This meal should include enough carbohydrates and some protein.
- You can take a small high-carb snack up to 10 minutes before your workout. If you need an energy boost, eat something with a high GI (>70).
- Don’t forget to drink before, during, and after your workout. The last thing you need is to reach the point of dehydration (a loss of >2% of your body weight in sweat), which affects your electrolyte balance and can seriously impair your performance.
- Eat a hearty meal two to three hours before strength training.
- Combines carbohydrates and protein in a 3:1 ratio.
- You can have a high-protein snack or a shakeup to 10 minutes before your workout.
- Greek yogurt
- Milk or vegan alternatives
*Tip: Stay away from fatty, spicy, or high fiber foods before a workout. This can affect your digestion negatively and cause heartburn, which is detrimental to your performance.
WHAT TO EAT AFTER WORKING OUT?
What you eat after training is as important as what you eat before. Skipping this meal or snack will slow down the recovery process. The consequences can vary from feeling sore or aching muscles the next day and having to cancel your workout to feeling exhausted and not being able to perform at your best.
Protein is very important after training. You need it to repair your muscles after an intense workout. But quantity is not always what counts: the body has a storage limit and will not be able to absorb more once you exceed that limit. The excess is stored as fat.
- The ideal metabolic recovery window is 30 minutes after training. Your snack should be a combination of carbohydrates and protein (2:1 ratio).
- Carbohydrates are especially important after long training to replenish glycogen stores.
- The body loses electrolytes when you sweat, so you can add salt to your food. If you’ve been working out for a long time, a drink with electrolytes and carbohydrates is a good way to help your recovery.
- Weigh yourself before and after training. The difference will tell you how much liquid you should drink.
- The body recharges energy reserves during the regeneration phase. When you consume macronutrients, it helps improve your recovery.
- The ideal metabolic recovery window is 30 minutes after training. Combine protein with a smaller portion of carbohydrates (or larger if you want to gain muscle mass or weight). You should take in 20-25g of protein after your strength training to support the protein synthesis of the muscles.
- Supplements are not necessary after training. Protein requirements should be covered by a balanced diet. If you don’t have time to cook something, a protein-rich shake or bar is a good alternative. Just make sure it’s not filled with sugar.
- Chicken Breast
- Cottage cheese
- Greek yogurt
As you can see, it is not only what you do in the gym but the food you eat before and after training that has a big impact on your performance and recovery. Follow us on social media and keep in touch through our blog for other useful tips!