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Pre and Post Workout Nutrition For Sports Performance

Pre and Post Workout Nutrition 

Many of my clients ask what they should be eating before and after work outs. My nutrition courses have taught me the science, and this is the information that I have surmised. The first thing to discuss with pre workout nutrition is that larger meals containing fat should be consumed 1 to 4 hours prior to your work out. This would be solely dependent on your own reaction to eating and then working out.

Fats are Hard to Digest

post workout nutritionThe majority of people find that if they have food remaining in their stomach during a workout the result will be stomach upset, nausea and cramping. This is partially due to the fact that fats are hard to digest. So avoid eating food with healthy fats prior to a workout. However, it is important to be fueled prior to a work out. Ensure you consume foods that are high in carbohydrates, 30 minutes before a work out. These are easily digested. There is always the debate with morning workouts whether they can be done on an empty stomach. The rule of thumb is that cardio can be done on an empty stomach. When doing weights it’s important to create sugar stores so you always have to eat first.

What to Eat Before and After

The next question people ask me is what they should eat before and post workout. It would be solely dependent on what you plan on doing during your work out. Should you be planning to do an intense work out that involves cardio and weights you should start carbohydrate and protein loading about 3 to 4 hours ahead.

Generally 2 to 3 meals incorporating specific foods with different types of carbohydrates and proteins. The first meal should be 3 to 4 hours out and should consist of moderate Glycemic index complex carbohydrates and protein at about a 2:1 ratio. You would also incorporate a healthy fat into this meal which would give it time to digest to prevent nausea. Healthy starchy carbohydrates you may consider would be healthy choice pastas, potato, yam or sweet potatoes combined with fresh vegetables or fruit. Protein considerations should be, but not limited to, yogurt, lean meats or fish. You could have a small amount of organic, sugar free peanut or almond butter or avocado as a healthy fat source. The second meal would be 1 to 2 hours before and should contain some fresh fruit or vegetables with a protein such as yogurt or protein powder. Lastly 30 minutes before the work out you want to consume 15 to 30 gms of a high glycemic index simple carb such as juice (orange or tomato) or fresh fruit (apple, peach or oranges are good choices) with some protein powder.

During Your Workout

During your work outs ensure that you are drinking plenty of water. In fact you should be drinking water all day. Keep in mind a minimum of 8 – 8 ounce glasses of water should be drank each day. Any time you feel thirsty throughout the day you are already dehydrated. Dehydration can inhibit exercise performance, which may decrease metabolism. Even mild dehydration can affect physical performance during exercise. When you exercise, your body’s metabolism increases because of the increased demand for energy. However, if you cannot properly perform during physical activity, your metabolism can be affected. Subjects that reduced their weight by 1 to 2 percent from lack of water, were slower, more fatigued and could not exercise as long as subjects that had been properly hydrated.

Water is also essential for proper circulation in the body. The levels of oxygen in the bloodstream are greater when the body is well hydrated. The more oxygen the body has readily available the more fat it will burn for energy. Without the presence of oxygen the body cannot utilize stored fat for energy efficiently. Not only will the body burn more fat when well hydrated but because there are increased oxygen levels, you will also have more energy.

Consume Protein Post Workout

Post work out it’s necessary to replenish your glycogen stores, it’s recommended to have a high carbohydrate snack within 1 to 2 hours after. Waiting longer than that time frame will result in 50% less glycogen stores in the muscle. Generally you want to consume a 70 to 90 gms of simple carbohydrates or about 1 gm per kilogram. You also need to consume protein post workout. The experts recommend anywhere from a 2:1 to 4:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein. This would be dependent on the particular type of activity you are participating in. Combining a protein and carbohydrate snack within 2 hours post workout will nearly double insulin response which equals more stored glycogen.

In conclusion, carbohydrates should be a key source of energy. Without carbs the body with begin to break down protein, which is muscle, in order to feed its need for fuel. Getting yourself to the next level will take planning because as the saying goes, “Abs are made in the kitchen not in the gym”, 30% of your results will be what you do in the gym and 70% will consist of what and when you consume your food!

70% Will Consist of What and When You Consume Your Food

Cathie Glennon is an Elite Personal Trainer and Infofit graduate!  Certified with  BCRPA – SFL, CSNA, (Certified Sport Nutrition Advisor), she shares her expertise as an Elite Personal Trainer, an Apprenticeship Practicum Supervisor and Exam Preparation Tutor.

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