This article was written by our friends at Pretty Fit

Just like a car can’t run without fuel, your body can’t perform optimally without proper nutrition. When it comes to working out and training, having the right eating and supplementation habits can maximize the benefits of your hard work.

Studies show that proper nutrition timing can benefit muscle recovery, growth, athletic potential and body composition. This means that when you eat certain foods at the right times, you can accomplish your goals faster. Let’s take a look at pre, intra and post-workout nutrition, and samples of meals or snacks for each.

PRE-WORKOUT NUTRITION

grapefruit

Have you ever experienced low blood sugar while working out? It’s awful. Your head hurts, your body aches, and you feel weak compared to your normal self. This typically happens because you are not eating enough that day or enough before your workout.

It turns out that proper pre-workout nutrition is not only important for keeping you energized during a workout, it also is key to maximizing your protein synthesis (muscle growth) and recovery after you workout.

Protein and Carbs Pre-Workout

Consuming protein and carbohydrates before a workout has a greater influence on muscle growth than protein and carbohydrates ingested post workout, according to studies. During exercise, elevated levels of protein and carbohydrates in your system allow for greater delivery of amino acids to your muscles while you work out. This leads to more muscle growth than if you were to only eat post-workout. Eat a light carb and protein-rich snack about 15 minutes to 45 minutes before your workout to maximize muscle growth and strength.

Our recommendations for pre-workout foods:

  • Bananas: They’re loaded with easily digestible carbs and potassium (important for muscle and nervous system function)
  • Fruit and Greek yogurt: Thick, sour Greek yogurt is a great source of protein while fruit is full of natural carbohydrates
  • Oats and protein powder: Oats contain slow-digesting carbs and protein powder contains an awesome amino acid complex to promote muscle growth.
  • Eggs and whole wheat toast: Protein and carbs…need we say more?

INTRA-WORKOUT NUTRITION

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Often overlooked, proper nutrition during your workout can play a large role in improving your results during exercise and in aiding recovery.

Eat or drink carbohydrates during your workout

Ingesting carbohydrates during your workout allows your muscles to perform more work. While this is well known amongst endurance athletes, studies show that carbohydrate ingestion during resistance training also improves work output. This means more reps and results simply by adding a few carbohydrates to your workout. Consider adding a carbohydrate beverage such as Gatorade or a carb-loaded protein bar during your training session for best results. If you’re participating in an endurance training session, you’ll want more carbs dispersed throughout your workout compared to resistance training.

Our recommendations for intra-workout drinks and snacks:

  • Gatorade
  • Protein bar with carbs

Post-Workout Nutrition

protein shake

Though potentially not as beneficial or as important as pre-workout nutrition, consuming carbs and protein post-workout has been shown to positively affect exercise performance.

What you eat immediately after hitting the gym will dictate the protein synthesis that takes place hours after your workout has ended and impact your growth and recovery.

In addition to your immediate post-workout nutrition, we also recommend ingesting a slow digesting protein (like casein protein) before bed. This helps your muscles recover faster overnight while providing BCAAs and essential amino acids to your muscles while you sleep.

Our recommendations for post-workout meals and snacks:

  • A full balanced meal: Like fish, chicken or meat with veggies/salad and rice or potatoes
  • A protein shake: Ideally, it should contain 20-40 grams protein and 40-100 grams carbs
  • Protein Ice Cream: Try it, you’ll thank us later!
  • Casein protein powder: Taken 30 minutes prior to sleep

Proper nutrition is key to achieving your fitness goals. Even if you’re eating all the right foods, chances are you can improve your body composition by changing up the timing of your meals and supplementation to maximize your efforts in the gym!

If you follow a nutrition program like flexible dieting (IIFYM) make room for plenty of carbs and protein for pre, intra, and post-workout nutrition.

Lastly, know that this isn’t the end-all-be-all of nutrition timing. Everyone’s body reacts differently, so test out a few different meals and snacks around your workouts and see what works best for you!

This article was written by our friends at Pretty Fit