An effective training program doesn’t confine itself to the gym. In fact, what you do before you walk through the doors and after you leave are as important as what you do while you’re here. This is especially true when it comes to what you eat. If you don’t seem to be getting the results you’re looking for from your training sessions, nutrition could be the problem. In order to make your workouts as effective as possible, focus on smart pre- and post-workout nutrition.

Before a training session, it’s important to give your body fuel to perform well and build muscle. Studies have shown that eating before strenuous exercise (as opposed to exercising in a fasted state) improves performance. Ideally, your pre-workout fuel should be a carbohydrate-rich meal or snack in order to top off glycogen stores and help sustain energy.

After every training session, proper nutrition is essential to your recovery. It replenishes muscle and liver glycogen stores, enhances the building of lean body mass, and aids muscle repair. Essentially, everything that you might want from your workout will happen more effectively with good post-workout nutrition.

The storage of protein and carbohydrates in our muscles is greatly depleted after we exercise and it is essential we replete these stores within 45 minutes to 1 ½ hours after training.  Research has shown that consuming a post-exercise meal immediately after working out is superior to consuming one as little as an hour later. In turn, consuming a meal 1 hour later is superior to consuming one 3 hours later (Tipton et al 2001, Levenhagen et al 2001). If you wait too long, glycogen replenishment and protein repair will be compromised.

For your post-workout meal or snack, consume food and/or beverages that contain a 2:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio. As soon as possible after your workout, consider consuming one of the following snacks:

  • Greek yogurt with berries
  • Protein bar (containing at least 10 grams of protein)
  • 1 medium sized piece of fruit with 1 oz of cheese, 2 tablespoons of peanut butter, or ½ cup of cottage cheese
  • Fruit smoothie made with 1 cup of low-fat milk

As an active individual, developing nutrition strategies that optimize your fitness goals and overall health can be a balancing act. By taking a close look at your routine and potentially incorporating some of the aforementioned pre- and post-workout ideas, you will be well on your way to successfully achieving your goals!

If you are interested in developing a pre- and post-nutrition plan based on your specific needs, contact our nutrition team today!

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