Do you feel like you're not seeing the results from your intense workouts? It could be because you are not properly fueling before and after your training to reap maximum benefits and provide the muscle with the raw materials it needs.
As all types of exercise use carbohydrates for energy, muscle carbohydrate depletion is inevitable. Therefore having at least 1-2 meals under your belt before training has been shown to give you more energy and a more effective workout. These meals should consist of 20-30 grams of complex carbs for women and 30-45 grams for men. These carbs could consist of vegetables, sweet potatoes, beans, or whole grains or dark berries. This will give you the energy you need to have a productive workout. In addition, protein is another essential key to your workout success and incorporating a whey protein before your workout has shown to be the most effective protein for your muscles to utilize and create a more effective workout. If you don’t have a whey protein handy, eggs, chicken, turkey, or lunch meat are all great sources of lean protein. Range of protein should be anywhere from 15-25 grams for women, and 25-45 grams for men.
A post-workout meal makes your workout complete. Your muscles will thank you the next day because you can prevent some soreness by getting in the right nutrients after your workout. A good post workout meal will also keep you from feeling fatigued and build your lean mass; which is the tissue that increases our metabolism and helps us burn more calories throughout the day. Your post workout meal should consist of simple carbohydrates such as fruit. Fruit is easily digested and easy for your body to break down so the nutrients will be stored as energy reserves in your muscle cells. Of course, a post workout meal is not complete with a protein source; 20-25 grams for women, and 30-45 grams recommended for men.
While your post-workout feeding should be rich protein and carbohydrate, this meal should be fat free. The consumption of essential fats is one of the most overlooked areas of daily nutritional intake but during the post workout period, eating fat can actually decrease the effectiveness of your post-workout beverage. Since fat slows down transit through the stomach, eating fat during the post workout period may slow the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates and proteins.
Finally, another important factor to consider is the timing of these meals. Preworkout meal should be consumed 30 minutes to an hour beforehand. Post workout is slightly different, it is absolutely crucial that you consume your post-workout meal immediately after exercise. As indicated above, after exercise, the muscles are depleted and require an abundance of protein and carbohydrate. In addition, during this time, the muscles are biochemically "primed" for nutrient uptake.
I assure you that once you start paying attention to this variable in the pre workout and recovery equation, your time in the gym will be much better invested.
The best pre and post workout nutrients are something I like to call my workout “Sandwich”. I “sandwich” my workout with a complete carbohydrate and protein rich shake before and after training.
Your workout “sandwich”:
1 cup almond milk or water
3 ice cubes
1 scoop whey protein isolatepowder (25 for women, 35 for men)
½- 1 cup fruit (your choice – stick with dark berries for your preworkout, any fruit post workout.)
1 tsp glutamine powder for women, 2 tsp for men
1 tsp BCAA powder for women, 2 tsp for men
Blend together in a blender, or shake ingredients in a shaker cup and eat the fruit on the side.