Knowing what to eat and what to avoid before and after a workout can have a tremendous impact on your performance in the gym. And also on how much muscle you are likely to build afterwards.
Pre workout and post workout meals require adequate thought and preparation, because they are two of the most important meals for someone aspiring to build muscle.
Carbohydrates Before A Workout
Carbohydrates are ideal heading into a workout because of the energy they provide. It is best to go for natural and unprocessed carbs such as fruits and vegetables, brown rice or brown bread. These foods provide long lasting energy to keep you going through a strenuous and extended workout.
Stay away from processed carbs such as pastries, doughnuts and other sweet snacks which will give you a false sense of security by boosting energy levels the first few minutes of your workout, before resulting in a huge crash soon afterwards forcing you to end your workout prematurely due to a lack of energy. This is one of the worst things that can happen at the gym.
Avoid Having Meals Too Close To Workout
Avoid having meals less than three hours before the start of a workout because you don’t want to confuse your body by delving into a workout while your body is digesting a meal. This will make you sick and you won’t be able to perform at your best during the workout.
Your pre workout snack should always be light and can come in the form of a carbohydrate and/or protein drink if you would rather not have something solid. Avoid foods that are very high in fibre as this could cause an upset stomach during your workout. This pretty much wraps up pre workout nutrition.
Phase Following A Workout Is Critical
The phase following a workout is critical because it is at this time that muscle cells are most ready for the uptake of nutrients for the process of repair and regeneration. At this stage protein is important to provide the amino acids your muscles need to rebuild.
Carbohydrates are also needed to restore glycogen levels or else your body will resort to breaking down muscle tissue for energy. For this reason dextrose which is basically sugar and which is found in most sports drinks is excellent to have at this time to restore glycogen levels. The ideal post workout option however would be something consisting of a carbohydrate and protein mixture.
Avoid Fats Immediately Before Or Soon After A Workout
One macro-nutrient to avoid too much of before or after a workout is fats since this will slow down digestion of protein and carbs. Eat the right foods before your workout and you will have the energy to give your best during your workout. Having the right foods after your workout will induce hypertrophy and increase motivation levels heading into the next workout.
Chris is a 25 year old fitness enthusiast who blogs about fitness and health. You can follow him on Twitter here.