There is so much confusion around what to eat before and after training and rightly so. There is tons of information out there that all seems to be telling you to do all different things. One thing that you should know is that fuelling your pre and post workout is very important. I have had new clients time and time again turn up to a high intensity weight training session first thing in the morning on an empty stomach thinking that’s the best thing to do to lose weight quickly, but if you have ever experienced low blood sugar it’s not very pleasant.
So let’s clear this one up once and for all, when you should eat and what to eat which will maximise your workout results.
There is one time and one time only which it’s ok to exercise on an empty stomach and it’s known as fasted cardio. So if you were to go for a short power walk first thing in the morning (not a run) for 20-60mins that’s fine to eat breakfast when you get home.
If you are doing a weight training session first thing in the morning best thing to do first of all is to add some starchy carbs to your dinner to pre-load especially if it is a hard workout like legs. Then you need to have something to eat before your session. The hardest thing about this is if your session is at 6am and you've only got 30 minutes before your session the food you eat generally won’t digest in time. This can result in feeling nauseous throughout your training session due to your food still sitting in your stomach.
The best thing to have at this time is a protein shake beforehand or sometimes a piece of fruit, you generally will have to find what works for you as long as you do have something. Just remember that your car will not run without fuel and neither will your body so quit showing up to training on an empty stomach.
Here are some ideas of pre-workout and post-workout foods to include in your workout routine keeping in mind you will need to see what works best for you. The general rule is to have some carbs with your meal before your workout and then some carbs and protein (essential) after your workout.
There is a vital 30 minute window of opportunity after your training session which your body will absorb maximum nutrients as your body requires it. This is why protein shakes are as great as you can have them straight after you finish your training session and your body will absorb it generally within 20mins. Your body will also require simple carbohydrates at this time to help transport the protein to your muscles and also to top up your glycogen levels. The best sources of simple carbs to have at this time is indeed fruit including apricots and blueberries being the best sources although most fruits will be sufficient. Bananas however are best to have before your training session.
Within 2 hours of training its best to also have a complete meal. Now post workout is the MOST important meal of the day. If you have to skip meals (which I recommend you don’t) I suggest this not be one of them. When you do weight training you are actually creating small micro-tears in your muscle fibres and in order for your body to repair and rebuild it needs the tools to do so which is protein and carbohydrates. If you skip post workout nutrition your body will indeed break down existing muscle tissue, the very thing you’re trying to build in order to help repair the micro tears.
So key things to take away from this;
- Eat before you do a weight training or high intensity training session.
- Have protein & a piece of fruit within half an hour of your session finishing.
- Eat a complete meal within two hours of finishing your workout.
For more info on training and clean eating head to www.littlefitmiss.com for a tailored program.