What to Eat Pre & Post Workout

Should I eat before training?
Even if I’m trying to lose weight?
What if I train too early in the morning?
What about eating after training?

These are very important questions that most of us have asked at one time or another. Whether you are a seasoned athlete or just starting out with a training program, proper pre- and post-training nutrition can greatly impact your progress and results.

Eating before an intense training session is very important.
Coming into training without any fuel in the tank will not allow you to really push and get the most out of your session. Not eating before training can leave you feeling dizzy, nauseous and lethargic. Plus, you might actually be breaking down muscle during the workout if your body is searching for energy and you haven’t eaten anything. You should be eating a snack or meal that will help increase glycogen levels before your workout and help prevent catabolism (the breakdown of muscle tissue). A good pre-workout snack or meal would include carbohydrates and some protein. Carbs are broken down by your body as glucose and stored as glycogen, which you need to fuel your work out and feel energized and strong throughout the session. Protein is made up of amino acids, which your body uses to build muscle (among other things). During resistance training, you cause small tears in the muscle fibers, which then need to be rebuilt and repaired (using amino acids from protein) to build bigger, stronger muscles.

So, a good pre-workout snack or meal with carbs and protein is key, but when should you eat it? The best time to eat before training can be anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours before your session. If you are training first thing in the morning, you may only have time for a quick snack, so this should be something easy to digest (like some natural yogurt and a piece of fruit) about 30 minutes before training. If you are training in the afternoon or evening, however, you should have a larger meal (like chicken breast with rice and roasted veggies) 1 to 2 hours before training.

Some people do really struggle if they’re not used to eating before exercise, so start with something small like a banana or a piece of toast. You might find it difficult at first, but stick with it and try switching up your pre-workout meals to see what you find works best for your body. Also play around with how early you eat; if it’s not too early in the morning, try eating an hour before training so you have a bit more time to digest before training.

Ok, you have been to the gym and powered through your session feeling energized and strong. What about post-training nutrition? Eating after training is also very important. After exercise, you have a small window of about 30-60 minutes where you body is like a sponge. During this time, you need to replenish the glycogen stores and calories you used up during training and you need to begin repairing and rebuilding muscle tissue. Having a serving of protein within this window is very important for muscle recovery and repair. You also need some carbohydrates to replenish your energy stores. Most people opt for complex carbs (such as oatmeal, whole grain bread or quinoa) after training, which take longer for your body to breakdown, leaving you feeling full for longer, and help to stabilize blood sugar levels and prevent fat storage.

If you will not be able to sit down and have a full meal within an hour of training, make sure that you plan ahead and have a good post-training snack on hand. For example, a slice of whole grain bread with natural peanut or almond butter or a serving of yogurt.

Remember, to get the most out of your workouts and to achieve your best results, you must fuel (and hydrate!) your body properly before and after training. For more information and examples of good pre- and post-training meals, contact us at MissFit Personal Training or check out our meal plans online at www.missfitpt.com.au