When it comes to fitness, the main focus is typically dedicated to training programs and exercise routines, while nutrition comes second or as an afterthought. Whether you’re a regular gym-goer or someone who works out occasionally, getting the proper nutrition could help to improve your performance and achieve your fitness goals.
Pre workout works to provide the body with the fuel it requires to train hard and for a longer time. During a gruelling workout, the body depletes energy, so a nutritious post-workout meal refuels the body and prevents it from breaking down muscle to use as reserved energy.
Since nutrition is a critical factor in your fitness journey, it helps to find ways to get the most out of your pre-workout and post-workout nutrition.
Timing is Everything.
Some people may prefer to work out on an empty stomach, but in most cases, this is not beneficial for building muscle. Also, when you train fasted, you likely don’t have the energy and stamina to power through an intense workout. If you’re training early in the morning and don’t have time for a full breakfast, grabbing a light, nutritious snack will boost your energy and help you make the most out of your workout.
Knowing when to eat may improve the quality of your workout.
Ideally, you should eat one to three hours before exercising. The amount of time before and after your workout should guide the types of food you eat.
If you plan on eating two to three hours before you exercise, it’s advantageous to have a full, substantial meal, whereas it’s better to have a light snack if you’re eating for an hour or less of your workout.
Regarding post-workout meals, it’s best to eat as soon as possible to replace lost energy, so aim to eat fifteen to thirty minutes after exercising. If this is not possible, eat at least within two hours of your training.
Know What to Eat.
As important as timing is, the kind of food you eat matters equally. After all, consuming foods with little nutritional value will not provide your body with the fuel and nutrients it needs for a pre-workout and to help the body repair post-workout.
If you plan on eating a full meal two to three hours before exercising, ensure you hit all the required macro and micronutrients and that your meal is balanced. The following are good nutritious options:
- Eggs, potatoes, and avocado
- Brown rice, chicken, and a side salad
- Lean meat, vegetables, and rice
- Fish, potatoes, and vegetables
- A few slices of turkey on whole grain bread with lettuce and tomato
If you don’t have time for a substantial meal and plan on eating a light snack about an hour before training, these are some excellent options:
- Yoghourt and fruit
- A granola bar
- A banana
- Oatmeal with berries and nuts
- Apple slices with peanut butter
After training, you may not feel like eating, but it’s important to refuel the body to replace lost energy and prevent the muscles from breaking down. You don’t have to eat a full meal after exercising, but try eating a light, protein-rich snack, for example:
- Chocolate milk
- Hummus on pita bread
- Peanut butter on rice cakes
- A protein shake
- Hard-boiled eggs on toast
- Cottage cheese
- Tuna salad sandwich
Read the Labels When Using Supplements.
To meet the increasing demand for convenience foods, there is a wide range of pre-workout and post-workout supplements that you can buy online and in various fitness stores. Your local grocery store may also stock a range depending on your location.
While these drinks are incredibly convenient, they’re not all made equal. To make sure you’re fueling your body with the proper nutrients, you must take the time to read the ingredients list so you know what to buy.
Pre-workout supplements are formulated to give you energy and help you perform better while training. You can consume them between ten to forty-five minutes before your workout.
Post-workout supplements help with recovery. They are typically high in protein to help maintain muscle mass and carbohydrates to replenish depleted energy.
A good pre-workout supplement should contain some of the following ingredients:
- L- Glutamine
- Vitamin B
- Nitric oxide precursors
Look for the following ingredients on post-workout supplement labels:
Pre-workout and post-workout supplements are great alternatives to eating whole foods for people who don’t have time to sit down to eat a balanced meal. It may also be easier to consume when you don’t feel like eating a heavy meal.
Like anything related to fitness, it’s important to be consistent and build healthy habits, as this is the surest way to see results. Ensure you eat the right foods pre-workout and after every workout to fuel your body with the correct nutrition. Not fueling your body before every training session will mean that during some sessions, you may underperform because you lack the energy, and not fueling your body after some training sessions may cause your muscles to waste.
For many people, this may cause their fitness journey to become stagnant or might even slow their progress.
If you’re taking supplements that contain L-Citrulline and Creatine, you need to take them consistently as they take time to build up in your system. You’re unlikely to derive the benefits if you take them once or twice or sporadically over time.
Develop a Pre-Workout and Post-Workout Routine.
With life being as busy as it is, a lot of people may pop into the gym early in the morning, between meetings, or quickly after work before heading home to do chores. In these instances, they’re likely not in the right frame of mind pre-workout or even during the workout. Exercising is just as much mental as physical, and it’s essential to be mentally prepared for your training session.
Apart from eating, it’s helpful to develop a pre-workout and post-workout routine that will help you prepare for your workout. This does not have to be a long-drawn-out ritual and can take as little as ten minutes to prepare you mentally and clear your mind so that you focus on your training.
Consider listening to music or going for a quick walk pre-workout. Do some light stretches or enjoy the sauna or steam room post-workout.
Make Sure You Get Enough Sleep.
Even if you’re getting all the required nutrients your body needs, you still need to ensure that you get enough sleep. Not only does sleep help to improve your health, mood, and brain performance, but it also helps to repair your body and gives your muscle tissue time to recover.
Not getting enough sleep can cause fatigue, slowing your progress and likely preventing you from working out effectively. While everyone requires different amounts of sleep to function optimally, the average adult needs around seven to nine hours.
Being even mildly dehydrated can cause you to feel sluggish or tired, making it difficult to concentrate on your training. This does not mean you must drink litres of water before working out. A better option is to focus on keeping hydrated throughout the day. Have a jug of water and a glass on your desk so that you remember to hydrate, or carry a water bottle with you if you’re on the go.
You’re more likely to drink water regularly if it’s more convenient than if you have to get up and fetch it.
Find Foods or Supplements You Enjoy.
When you’re planning meals and super focused on eating the right foods to get the correct nutrients, it can start to feel like a chore since you’re eating based on nutritional content rather than considering the foods you enjoy eating. After a while, this can get boring, and you’re likely to skip meals if you don’t enjoy the food.
Instead of focusing on nutrient content, look for healthy, nutrient-dense foods you like. Healthy food doesn’t have to be boring. For example, if you’re preparing grilled chicken, season it with more than just salt and pepper. Experiment with different spices and seasonings to make your foods more exciting, and if you use supplements, look for flavours you enjoy.
While exercising is important, you must prioritize your pre-workout and post-workout meals. Getting the proper nutrition is key to making gains and will help you to work out more effectively. To gain the most from your pre-workout and post-workout meals, it’s essential that you eat the right foods at the right time, get enough sleep, develop a routine, and are adequately hydrated.
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- What to Eat Before and After a Workout; https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/ss/slideshow-foods-for-workout
- Eating and exercise: 5 tips to maximize your workouts; https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/exercise/art-20045506#:~:text=Eat%20after%20you%20exercise&text=To%20help%20your%20muscles%20recover,more%20than%20two%20hours%20away.