Why are pre and post-exercise nutrition important? Pre-workout nutrition helps you hit your stride in the gym. It gives you the energy you need to get through your routine with ease and effectiveness, and fueling up incorrectly can hold you back from achieving your peak performance. Post-workout nutrition, on the other hand, is just as detrimental. The right combination of post-workout foods is key to speeding up recovery and catalyzing muscle protein synthesis, to ultimately have you in great condition for the next time you take to the gym. That being said, our personal trainer San Diego put together this nutrition guide to help you get both aspects to spot on.
Pre-workout nutrition guide
If you’d like to hit your goals in the gym and keep muscle damage at bay, it’s important to figure out what to eat before you get down to it. Our San Diego fitness experts, from their immense experience, outline the following pre-workout nutrition requirements.
Before we get into any nutrients, let’s first have a chat about the best pre-workout nutrition timing. This is also a critical aspect that could make or break everything. Here are a few important things to note about timing:
- Get a full meal about 3 hours prior: To ensure you go the distance when you train, prioritize a full, carb-inclusive meal about 3 hours in advance (or at the very least, 2 hours)
- Eat light 1 hour leading up to training: You may be held up and are thus unable to eat a complete meal in the above time frame. In this case, you want to consider protein and carb-rich foods that go down easy in terms of digestion.
- The general rule of thumb: It’s helpful to remember that the closer to the workout you get, the simpler the foods you eat should be.
Let’s talk about Food
You have plenty of options when it comes to choosing the best pre-workout meal. Here are a few that come highly endorsed by our San Diego fitness personal trainer:
- Chicken and brown rice – this packs a nice balance of protein and carbs, making for a great complete pre-workout meal option
- Whey protein shakes– These turbocharge in-workout muscle protein synthesis, and should be taken 1- 3 hours prior
- Bananas- Eating a banana an hour prior can provide your body with the boost of energy to power through a workout. Bananas are rich in starch and sugar
- Peanut butter- Yes, that’s right! However, you want to go for wheat bread instead and include a little bit of honey on your peanut butter & jelly sandwich
- Plain Greek yogurt- About to lift some weights? Taking a Greek yogurt 1-2 hours in advance is wise
Some other excellent pre-workout meals and snacks include granola bars, healthy cereals like oatmeal, and strawberry smoothies, to name a few.
What about hydration
Is it good to drink water before exercise? Yes. Water can boost endurance, focus, and performance. Water is often overlooked and not talked about enough in many pre-workout nutrition guides. Here’s our take on how to hydrate before training, according to guidelines from the American Council on Exercise:
- Non-exercising Men and women should take 3.7 and 2.7 liters of fluid per day. Individuals who work out regularly, however, need to take in a lot more.
- In terms of pre-workout hydration, shoot for 20 ounces (3 cups of water) up to 120 minutes prior.
- In terms of hydrating during a workout, you should drink about 10 ounces after every 20 minutes so don’t forget your water bottle.
Post-workout nutrition guide
Let’s first start with what not to do or rather what you should not eat after workouts. When you crush it at the gym, sidestep the temptation of a celebratory drink. Alcohol impedes recovery and can increase dehydration levels. You also want to skip unnecessary sugars from consuming lots of energy bars, and sports drinks, while spicy foods are also off the table, particularly after intense workouts, as they can compound inflammation.
On the flip side, what nutrition should you eat after a workout? Here are some recommendations from our expert female personal trainer San Diego:
- Grass-fed beef- You will damage some muscles when you work out. A resupply of lean proteins is essential to hastening recovery. Other great substitutes are wild-caught fish, cottage cheese, almonds, and eggs.
- Legumes- Whole carbs are a great post-workout option over refined cards. Options that you have here include unprocessed beans, fruits, veggies, and whole grains. These will help replenish the glycogen you lose during intense training
- Healthy fats- Trans and saturated fats are generally a no-no and you should take them in moderation. But more ideally, go for healthy fats such as fish, chia seeds, nuts, and avocados
Let’s talk about post-workout meal timing and hydration
While opinions are generally clear when it comes to pre-workout nutrition timing, the jury is still out when it comes to the post-workout nutrition window, which goes by the popular sobriquet anabolic window.
Some suggest eating within the anabolic window, which covers the period right after you work out, specifically 30 minutes to 1 hour after training. The research and evidence on this however are far from conclusive. So you should be just fine sticking it out till the next meal. However, high-level athletes who train several times daily often eat much more frequently.
In terms of hydration, we recommend 8 ounces of water within the hour of completing your training. Some doctors further suggest that, for every lb of body weight you lose during training, you should make up for it with at least 16 ounces of fluid.
If you’ve been training for a long time and haven’t been getting results, perhaps it may be because of poor post and pre-workout nutrition. Getting this right is the first step toward success in your program. However, you may need to get an expert to craft a personalized nutrition plan since physiologies vary from one person to the next. Should you need advice in this regard, or a personal trainer to help you out, our gym in San Diego is here for you. Contact us today for more details.