The basic underlying principle of nutrition “calories in vs. calories out” is what ultimately plays the most important role. For the general population, it’s enough but for those of us that consider ourselves athletes in any way, shape or form or, are looking to up their performance during training, there’s a little bit more science that goes into what you should eat and how you should time it around your workouts.
The 3 macronutrients that make up our diet:
Protein – The one macronutrient everyone automatically thinks of when it comes to muscle growth and yes, the proper amount of protein is needed for stimulating muscle development. Athletes should be conscious of getting the right amount of protein throughout the day and spreading it as evenly as possible throughout meals so that muscle development is stimulated consistently. That said, protein is not the be all and end all to muscle development as one might think.
Carbohydrates – This macronutrient, which we all love, fuels activity, including your muscles when they’re working out hard during training. Without carbs, the body will turn to protein for fuel which in turn takes it away from it’s otherwise primary goal of building muscles.
Fat – Small amounts of the right kinds of fat are very important because they contain fatty acids that the body needs for cell growth (including muscle cells) and can’t produce on it’s own.
Who of you think that “carbs are bad” or “carbs make you fat” ?
Continue reading and I will change your opinion.
What to Eat Before Your Workout - (within 1 hour pre workout)
Focus on – high carbohydrates, moderate protein, low fat
Eating a small meal high in carbohydrates pre training will help fuel you for your upcoming activity. Think of it as fuel in your car. You need it to get from point A to point B. Within an hour of starting your workout, look for foods that are more quickly absorbed, things in liquid form are great for this like a protein shake. Since you have a little bit of time, moderate protein intake is good in helping to slow digestion just enough to let the carbohydrates enter the bloodstream and do their thing. Fats should be avoided right before a workout because they tend to slow digestion. Same goes for high fibre foods as well. So, save that spoonful of peanut butter or bowl of rice for after the workout, not before.
Here are some of my pre-workout go to “meals”:
• Greek yogurt, berries, cinnamon, spoonful of low sugar granola/rolled oats.
• Plain rice cake with 1/2 banana and cinnamon, greek yogurt on the side
• Scoop of whey protein powder, oats, greek yogurt
What to Eat During Your Workout - (1 hour + of high intensity)
Focus on – high carbohydrates
Intra-workout nutrition really only needs to be considered if your workouts are lasting an hour or more and are of relatively high intensity. If this is you, you want to focus on carbohydrates and hydration. Sports drinks usually do well in this kind of situation. Look for something high in electrolytes and carbohydrates.
Here are some intra-workout go to:
• SIS Electrolyte
• ON Amino Energy
What to Eat After Your Workout - (within 1 hour post workout)
Focus on – high carbohydrates, moderate protein, moderate fat
As an athlete, your post-workout nutrition serves two purposes:
1. refuelling what you just burnt off .
2. preparing you for your next workout.
Now’s the time to focus more on higher fibre carbohydrates. Since slower digestion isn’t an issue like it can be pre-workout, in fact, feeling full for longer is a good thing once your workout is done for the day, look for carbs from sources like whole grains, fruit, vegetables and even pulses (like beans and lentils). Protein should be moderate (as it should be in theory at every meal) and now’s an okay time to think about healthy fat sources again (think avocado, nuts, seeds, olive oils, etc.) If you can, eating within an hour (or sooner!) of finishing your workout will provide the most beneficial impacts. This “metabolic window” you’ve probably heard of before is a time period when the body is most receptive to the intake of protein and carbohydrates to both rebuild and prepare for the next training session.
Post workout nutrition definitely affords a little bit more leeway than pre-workout meals but do try and keep it under control. That workout, as hard as it may have felt at the time, doesn’t justify a large mighty meaty dominoes pizza and a whole tub of Ben and Jerrys ice-cream.
Most of the time, my post-workout meals are my dinner and it looks like your average meal: about 4-5 oz. of lean protein, lots of vegetables and some sort of whole grain carb like rice, whole wheat pasta or potatoes.
However, for the handful of times I train either in the late morning (meaning I’ve eaten breakfast beforehand) or midday (when I’ve defiantly eaten and lunchtime is calling!)
For anymore information or questions please feel free to contact me - Fran x 🙂