Everyone needs food to survive and nearly everyone enjoys the odd treat! But if you want to get the most of your training eating around your training is vital to your progress.
At this point, you should know that nutrition has a significant impact on your results. Abs are built in the kitchen. Everything in moderation is the key to the whole process.
Seriously, though: You might be wreaking utter havoc in the gym, but research indicates that what you eat before, during, and after your workout may be the difference between meeting your goals and falling short of those GAINS that you have been looking for.
Here are a few tips on how to harness the power workout nutrition so you can perform, recover, and grow faster than a weed.
Nutrition before your workout
There are few things in the fitness world that encourages more arguments and controversy than carbohydrates. Will they make you fat? Do you need them? What are good or bad carbs?
Carbohydrates are your body’s preferred fuel source. I’m not saying you should eat a whole load of mashed potatoes and eat sweets all day, but you need to fuel your body so it can train at its best.
You want every gram of carbohydrate you consume to be used as an immediate fuel source or to restore glycogen levels—you don’t want it to be stored as fat.
The key is don’t eat more carbs than you need and don’t worry about spreading them evenly throughout the day. You can eat the majority of your carbs around your workout.
I like clients to have at least two meals under the belt before training. Your first two meals should include complex carbohydrates like stone-rolled oats or sweet potatoes. Your first meal will provide a couple hours for carbs to get digested and go to work, ensuring blood sugar levels are up and glycogen levels are full prior to training.
Consume your second meal roughly one hour before lifting. Don’t get worked up about counting the minutes and seconds, as if five minutes will be the difference between 17- and 18-inch arms. Do the best you can, and try to time it so you can begin training without a lot of food in your gut. Most people can benefit from 40 grams of carbs before they train.
Research has indicated that users of whey protein prior to training will have better results than those using other protein sources (or none at all).
This is most likely due to the anti-catabolic and anabolic signalling effects of the branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) present in whey protein—particularly leucine. Whey has a considerably higher concentration of BCAAs than other proteins.
There are many other benefits, as well. Studies have shown that pre-workout protein intake will increase resting energy expenditure by an average of 6-6.5% for up to 48 hours. Pre-workout protein will also blunt cortisol through the day, an effect that wasn’t seen in control groups that were fasted or had ingested carbs only.
Protein and amino acids also spare carbs. People often assume that when the body runs out of carbohydrate fuel, it switches to fatty acids for fuel. That process is typically too slow for high-intensity training.
For people with strength or hypertrophy goals, consider supplementing with creatine monohydrate. While there are many forms of creatine available, I prefer micronized creatine monohydrate because it’s the most studied, solid, tried-and-true creatine on the market.
Creatine is the most studied supplement on the planet and there is no proven evidence to suggest that it is bad for you, as long as you are not using more than the recommended daily dose of 5g per day.
Creatine supplementation of 2-5 grams per day will provide greater stores to call on when training, enabling you to train more intensely. In short, creatine can help you train heavier for more reps; it also draws water into the muscles, making you look “full” in appearance.
The timing on the creatine is not critical. You can use it before or after your workout, or anytime throughout the day.
Nutrition during your workout
Most people don’t train long enough per session to need additional fuel while they train, especially if they’ve hit their pre-workout nutrition needs. Depleted dieters, like people preparing for physique competition, may benefit from extra fuel. One of the primary concerns for physique athletes is muscle loss as they whittle down to mid-single-digit body-fat levels. In this state, protein turnover is increased; your body actually needs more protein in a depleted state than it does when you’re trying to gain muscle.
Nutrition after your workout
Protein is essential for tissue growth and repair. Since the body is continuously breaking down proteins, our diet must provide sufficient quantities. Although recommended intakes vary and depend on body size and activity, a post-workout protein is almost universally helpful to kickstart muscle repair, recovery, and growth.
Whey protein is incredibly popular because it is rich in BCAAs, digests quickly, is highly bio-available, and has a perfect Protein Digestibility Corrected Amino Acid Score. Most sources agree that at least 20 grams of whey is necessary to boost muscle repair and recovery.
FAST CARBS (OPTIONAL)
After a tough workout, your fuel of blood sugar and glycogen should be low. You may have even tapped into reserves to complete your training, especially if you are dieting. Most of us understand the need for protein after training, but many overlook the benefits of fast-acting carbohydrates (glucose sweets, jelly babies and gels, white bread, white jasmine rice, pudding rice, baked potatoes, mashed potatoes).
From a physiological perspective, your body’s first priority is correcting blood sugar balance and replenishing glycogen, not making your biceps pop. Consume fast-digesting carbohydrates in order to spare protein, replenish glycogen, spike insulin, and speed recovery. Dose recommendations differ, but to maximize recovery, ingest 50-75 grams of high-glycemic carbs after exercise.
In conclusion enjoy your food, but everything in moderation is the key to healthy balanced lifestyle. If you are looking for more information please contact me directly on Shanewalshfitness@gmail.com or contact me via the website. Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.