When it comes to working out and achieving maximum results, it’s vital that you understand the importance of eating properly as part of your fitness plan. You see, the fact is that if you want to see results, you need to feed your body with the right stuff, otherwise you won’t have the stamina and strength to complete your workouts, putting your all into them.
If you want to ensure that you don’t fall short of your workout goals, then it’s vital that you make an effort to eat before, during and after your workouts. Your body cannot be strong if you don’t feed it the right nutrients, which is why understanding what you need to eat and when around your exercise sessions is important.
To give your workouts a boost and ensure that you can perform to the best of your ability, here’s what you need to be eating and when.
People who just want to become generally fitter, lose some weight and being able to perform better when playing wih their kids or attending clubs don't really need to worry about nutrient timing.
The important principle to keep in mind is to keep your meals balanced, ensure you eat protein, vegetables, small amount of carboydrates and little healthy fat with each meal. If you have 3-4 meals with a balanced macronutrient ratio consistently, you'll have enough energy for your workouts and other activities.
If you also focus on your portion sizes and keep your "calories in" lower than your "calories out" you will also lose weight. All BusyProFitness clients go through the same process when working on their nutrition plan to ensure they understand the best ways to work towards their fitness goals.
However, if your goals are more ambitious, you have a deadline to achieve a certain fat loss, you are exercising every day or would like to improve your athletic performance, you may need to be a little more specific.
That's when nutrient timing and carb cycling can help you to take it up notch. In brief, carb cycling is a method to consume more carbohydrates around your workouts or sport events to ensure your muscles have enough to fuel the activity, in exchange to keep yourself in a calorie deficit for fat loss, you would have lower car intake further away from workouts.
In practice this means that if you normally train in the evenings, your breakfasts would consist of no to very low carbs, your lunch would include some, but not too much and you would split the rest of your daily carbohydrate intake between your pre-workout meal and your dinner. On your rest days you would typically have low-carb meals throughout the day, apart from breakfast.
Before Working Out - Pre-Workout
How much you should eat depends on how much time you have before a workout. If you have 2-3 hours, you can have a full meal with no problem then a small snack about 45 mins before session. Now, there is a lot of controversy surrounding carbs, but remember, to be able to workout to the maximum, you need to be giving your body the fuel it needs, and carbs offer you that fuel.
It’s also important to consume plenty of protein in the lead up to a workout. This can be via natural sources of protein or via whey powder - how you get your protein is up to you, it’s just important that you find a way to get what your body needs.
An example is to have a full balanced meal with carbs 2,5-3 hours before your session, and a protein shake abou 40 minutes before. If you are about 1 hour to your session and haven't had a meal in 4+ hours, best is to boost that shake with some berries, oats besides the protein so you're body have something to work on.
During Your Session
If your workouts are short (<90 mins), you may not require fuel during them. However, during a long endurance event or session that lasts longer than 2 hours, your body may require a little boost. A cocktail of water, electrolytes, protein, and carbohydrates is ideal to have ready for you when you feel a drop in energy levels.
After Session - Post-Workout
After you’ve completed your workout, getting plenty of protein - ideally within 60 minutes of finishing your workout - is vital. This is because protein is crucial for muscle repair and growth, since the body is continuously breaking down protein, our bodies need constant supplies. The best way to get post-workout protein is via whey powder in a smoothie, as this is fast-acting and packed full of various other essential nutrients.
Eating lots of carbohydrates after a workout is also important, as usually your body’s blood sugar and glucose levels drop. Pasta, bread, and rice are all ideal carbohydrates to eat, as they are fast-acting and packed with calories.
Have any questions on the above or you'd like to have a commitment-free consultation with a coach to work out what you need to do to achieve your fitness goals? Feel free to get in touch!
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