Your Guide to Pre- and Post- Workout Fuel
You may have heard the saying “abs are made in the kitchen,” at some point in your fitness journey. The old saying hits an important point: how you fuel your body impacts fitness performance. We want you to feel strong and crush your fitness challenges out at Camp. We also want you to have a healthy relationship with food as it can be an effective tool if meals are planned out correctly.
So, how exactly do you “eat for performance”? These strategies can help fuel you through your workouts (and recover after!).
First and foremost, your calories and macros must be consistent in order for your workout nutrition to be effective. So, work on hitting your caloric and macro count first before attempting to implement any sort of exercise nutrition regimen.
When finding food to eat before a workout, you want something that will:
- Fuel you throughout the workout
- Keep you hydrated
- Help prevent soreness and promote a quick recovery
You want your pre-workout nutrition to focus on protein and carbohydrates which helps with performance, recovery, and replenishes energy for the next session.
- Consuming protein before exercise can reduce potential muscle damage as well as provide the building blocks needed for muscle growth and repair. How much protein? Generally speaking, a goal to aim for should be ~25% of your total daily protein intake before and after your workout.
- Consuming carbohydrates before a workout will help fuel you and stimulate insulin. Carbs also help with recovery, as your storage of glycogen in your muscles and liver won’t be completely depleted, meaning they’ll bounce back better after a strenuous workout.
- If you’re eating 2-4 hours before your workout, it’s best to eat a normal meal full of protein, healthy fats and carbohydrates. If you’re eating within 1-2 hours, aim for simple foods such as a piece of fruit and a serving of greek yogurt. If it’s within 60 minutes of exercising, try to get your calories from liquids, like juice or a protein shake
Intra-workout Nutrition (calories during your working)
This isn’t necessary for individuals who have fueled properly during the day, the day before, or are working out for less than an hour. If you’re working out at a high intensity for longer than 60 minutes and feel your performance is lagging, it might be good to consider an intra-workout supplement that is around 15g protein and 30-45g carbohydrate. As for electrolytes, they’re helpful if you are exercising for longer than 2 hours, sweating excessively or working out in the hot summer.
Many individuals put a lot of emphasis on post-workout nutrition, for good reason. It can help with recovery, new muscle growth and hydration. You may see people chugging protein shakes immediately after workouts, but that’s not always required to refuel properly. The duration of time that is crucial for you to eat after a workout is actually influenced by your pre-workout intake. If you had a full meal 3-4 hours before working out or a smaller snack within an hour of working out, you have up to 2 hours post-workout to refuel. If you workout in the early morning, in the fasted state, try to eat something as soon as possible after you’re done exercising.
Your post-workout meal doesn’t have to be a shake or smoothie – your body will receive the same benefits whether you are downing a shake or getting your protein from whole-food sources. Try to plan your post-workout meal to be a normal, balanced meal of whole food ingredients with a mix of protein, carbohydrates and fats.
Overall, timing your nutrition around workouts is a more sophisticated practice and should only be considered if you have been hitting your caloric and macro goals consistently. Timing your nutrients around workouts won’t be effective unless you’ve built the foundation of healthy nutritional habits.
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