Best time to eat before and after a workout
Food and training is a controversial topic: how long should you leave it between food and training? What kind of foods are appropriate? If you eat before training, are you going to throw up everywhere? These are the burning questions, and today we’re going to take you through the science and practice of nutrient timing: eating before and after a workout.
The Pre-Workout Meal: Why and How?
A pre-workout meal is a great way to fuel up for your training session and provide your body with all the nutrients that it needs to perform optimally. The foods that make up your pre-wokrout meal, and the timing of this meal, will determine whether its going to make or break your workout.
Pre-workout meals should be full of complex carbohydrates – these provide the best form of energy for performing hard, prolonged exercise. This is why extreme endurance athletes are often seen consuming large quantities of rice, wholegrains, and other starches. This kind of meal should be consumed around 1-2 hours before training for the best effects: you want to gain energy without feeling bloated during training. Everyone is different and our bodies react differently so this will be a trial and testing for each individual.
Eating During Training: Risk or Reward?
We aren’t suggesting you bring a chocolate cake to the gym, but some of the most important effects of dietary carbohydrates are gained when eating them during training. This is the best time to eat sugars: they provide rapidly-absorbing energy without excessive bloating: something as simple as fruit or a few sugary foods during training can have a positive health effect, and boost your performance.
Post-Workout Meals and Drinks: The Anabolic Window
Received wisdom in the fitness world is known as “broscience”, and the broscience has obscured the best practices around post-workout meals. The discussion of an ‘anabolic window’ is common, with a lot of misinformation surrounding the topic. To put it simple, yes, you can improve muscular recovery by eating a high-protein, high-carbohydrate meal after training – or even a simple post-workout protein shake.
According to renowned nutrition scientists Alan Aragon and Brad Schoenfeld, the anabolic window exists and can have an impact on overall muscle recovery and development. However, this is subject to a variety of different factors and it lasts much longer than people think: as long as your pre-workout and post-workout meals are less than 5 hours apart, you will see the best adaptations to your training.
Keep It Simple: An Example of Optimal Workout Nutrition
This is a simple example of how to make the most of your workout nutrition, but it is by no means definitive, and makes use of some of the most common foods. Be open to testing different combinations for your particular need and body.
Pre-Workout meal: 1 cup of oatmeal, ½ cup of blueberries, 1 cup of coffee (if needed, black, preferably!)
Workout carbs: 1 banana
Post-Workout meal: Salmon in pesto, beans,rice, or sweet potato, and dark green veggies.Stick to this schedule for a few weeks, and watch your training performance improve. Nutrition is a big part of performance and body transformation, and your pre-, intra-, and post-workout food is no exception!