Working out can be a challenge for all of us, but it gets much more difficult if we are not eating correctly before and after. Studies have shown that eating correctly before a workout can help us get the most out of it, while eating correctly after a workout can help us recover more efficiently and quickly. What you consume before and after a workout largely depends on the goal you set for yourself and whether you want to lose weight or gain muscle.
If your target goal is to lose weight, you can exercise on an empty stomach to allow your body to use your fat reserves as fuel resulting in a more effective weight loss. This plan is definitely easier to do in the morning when you wake up as that is when your stomach is the most empty.
However, it is important to keep in mind that you body will have trouble functioning at the highest level due to the lack of incoming energy but if you pace yourself accordingly, this is a great way of sprinting towards your weight loss goal! Keep in mind that it is extremely important not to overtrain when opting for this method.
If your target is to gain muscle, it is recommended that you eat complex carbohydrates and lean protein about three to four hours before you start working out. Studies have shown that athletes benefit the most from the amount of carbohydrates stored in the body as carbohydrates are broken down into glucose which is used for energy during your workout. The ability to sustain a prolonged and vigorous exercise regimen is directly correlated to the initial levels of muscle glycogen one has. However, this down not mean that consuming a high-carbohydrate diet constantly is advised as if you eat more carbohydrates than you use, it will be stored by your body as fat reserves. You should also make sure to hydrate yourself properly and stay away from caffeinated drinks prior to working out as dehydration can significantly impact the duration and quality of your workout.
Regardless of age, gender, sport or goal, the post-game meal recommendations are generally the same as your body need fuel to recover and repair your muscles. Following a workout session, it is extremely beneficial to eat a small meal of carbohydrates, proteins and fats within thirty minutes as protein synthesis is the greatest during this window of time.
Some athletes find it difficult to eat during this time as they often experience nausea or a decreased appetite after an intense workout session. A solution to this problem would be to drink a beverage that is high in protein and carbohydrates. A great example of what to drink post-workout would be chocolate milk as it contains a high amount of carbohydrates, proteins and fats which are exactly what your body need to repair your tired muscles. Chocolate milk also has a high water content which helps replenish fluids lost as sweat which prevents dehydration.
Ultimately, trying to achieve your fitness goal can be difficult for anyone but eating correctly throughout the day and after your workout session can significantly affect the quality and result of your workout. The best way to reach your fitness goal is to understand and eat the kind of food that your body requires to work at its highest capacity and repair itself after an intense workout.
The Argus community is full of wonderful and inspiring people embarking on their own unique fitness journey. If you, or someone you know, have a great story to share, we would love to hear from you. Contact us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Main Photo Credit: Besedina Julia/shutterstock.com; Second Photo Credit: Bojan Milinkov/shutterstock.com; Third Photo Credit: bitt24/shutterstock.com