As you should now if you follow me, when you eat generally doesn’t matter if the goal is something on the lines of weight loss, when and how often you should eat depends on your individual performance and health goals.
That being said there are two meals that do matter a little bit more! The pre and post workout meals especially if building muscle is main goal.
PRE WORKOUT MEAL
The pre workout meal, Like most things in fitness the pre workout meal is riddles with contradictions. Does it matter? should you have protein before you train? carbs? fats? whats the best ratio? how much food? when?
A good pre workout meal should increase glycogen levels in the body and help prevent catabolism
Protein is made up of individual amino acids. These are the building blocks of muscle, help prevent catabolism, and fight off hunger cravings. Calories from carbohydrates affect your blood-sugar levels, giving you a quick burst of energy if they are simple and quick-digesting, and lasting energy if they are more complex. Fats help maintain optimal hormone levels and provide slow-burning fuel for longer sessions
your pre workout fuel should be made up from medium to fast digesting proteins and slower digesting carbs.
Examples of a good pre workout meal is something simple like oatmeal with protein powder mixed in, tuna and brown rice etc.
How long before you train?
This is a very important timing, for most people the perfect timing for a pre workout meal is around 1-2 hours, this depends on your metabolism and also the type of training you are doing.
The fuel you have as a pre workout will also only be available in your bloodstream for a few hours so you dont want to be having your pre workout meal 4-5 hours before hand otherwise you’ll lose all the pre workout nutrients. I see this mistake a lot with people have lunch / pre workout meal at 12 then training at 5/6 with no other food.
Eating an hour or two before you work out provides the perfect opportunity to feed your muscles strategically while you work out. During resistance exercise, your muscles will fill or “pump up” with blood and become extremely sensitive to the nutrients you’ve consumed.(1)
This is why pre-workout nutrition is so important. What you ingest can go straight to the areas being trained.
If you are serious about lifting and you want the best results, proper post-workout nutrition is essential. Refueling your body after a workout is one of the most important parts of building muscle and recovering.
If you don’t eat the right foods after training, or you don’t eat them at the right time, your performance the next time will suffer, your gains will not be as good as they could be, and you could end up losing mass along the way. Plus, you’re setting yourself up for extra soreness—which you don’t want unless your crazy.
The most important reason to eat something after you work out is to elicit an insulin response. Insulin is a highly anabolic hormone, and spiking it halts protein breakdown and helps encourage protein synthesis.
Skipping this meal means you will miss out on these anabolic effects. You will only encourage further protein breakdown, which over time leads to a loss of mass.
To put it simply: Eating after you work out helps builds muscle and end protein breakdown for better recovery.
What To Eat Or Drink Immediately After Exercise
After you have finished a big session, your glycogen stores are depleted. Refilling them halts protein breakdown and increases protein synthesis.
Different to pre-workout nutrition, where complex carbohydrates are preferred, your carbohydrates here should be simple and easy to digest in order to illicit an insulin response to build muscle and recover more quickly.
The best choices for immediately after the gym are fast-digesting proteins and faster-digesting, moderate-to-high-glycemic carbs.
Fats should be largely avoided here, as they were during the pre-workout meal. They slow down the digestive process, and this is the one time you don’t want to slow the flow of nutrients into your body.
a good example of post workout meals are;
Chicken and rice / broccoli – the bodybuilding staple
or something as simple as a bowl of coco pops with protein powder, easy and quick digesting.
- Tipton, K. D., Rasmussen, B. B., Miller, S. L., Wolf, S. E., Owens-Stovall, S. K., Petrini, B. E., & Wolfe, R. R. (2001). Timing of amino acid-carbohydrate ingestion alters anabolic response of muscle to resistance exercise. American Journal of Physiology-Endocrinology and Metabolism, 281(2), E197-E206.
- Kraemer, W. J., & Ratamess, N. A. (2005). Hormonal responses and adaptations to resistance exercise and training. Sports Medicine, 35(4), 339-361.