Two of the most critical times for taking in proper nutrition are right before your workout session and immediately afterwards.
The meal after the workout serves to supply your body with new energy that it will use to either refill its muscle glycogen stores or to repair the damaged muscle tissues. In addition, a small meal before and after a workout greatly revs up your metabolism. If you skip this important meal you will drastically jeopardize the results you could see from your workout.
The Pre-Workout Meal
For the morning workout a liquid meal is often the best option as you won’t have a lot of time to digest the food before you hit the gym. Some people may simply have a hard time tolerating solid food first thing in the morning, thus they do better with a meal replacement shake. Another great idea if you don’t like shakes is a piece of fruit or some bread and jam or peanut butter.
If you exercise in the afternoon or evening, you can follow pretty much the same guidelines. However, since you have more time to play with a true meal 60-90 min before the workout is sufficient.
Try to take in this snack 15-20 minutes before your workout.
Banana with scoop of peanut butter
Yogurt (not the diet or light kind) – this is actually one of my favorites.
Banana and granola bar
Piece of toast or bread with peanut butter or jam
Dry cereal with fruit
As I said above, the post-workout meal serves to replenish muscular glycogen stores as well as to help provide the amino acids your muscles need to repair and rebuild themselves after being broken down through strength training activities. Contrary to popular belief, this meal will actually help your body burn more calories as it keeps your metabolism at peak performance. Your body burns more knowing it is not going into starvation mode.
It is always best for you to try and consume this meal as soon as possible after your workout as there is a critical window of opportunity when the muscles are more receptive to taking in the nutrients.
Many people choose to also consume a shake for this meal as it is easily transported to the gym so you can have it on your way out.
In this meal a higher carbohydrate amount is recommended .This not only replaces the energy you just expended but also provides your body with the energy required to synthesize new muscle tissue. Shorting yourself at this point will be very detrimental to your results so it is of utmost importance that you don't skimp on carbohydrates during this meal. If you are one of the individuals who tends to fear carbohydrates, thinking they will be stored as body fat, you can rest assured that eating them immediately after a workout is the one time of the day when they will not be stored as body fat. Furthermore, if you often find yourself craving sweets or simple grains such as candy, cereal or bagels, now is the time to eat them because you actually want the carbohydrates to be released into the blood stream rapidly.
To sum up, you should consume a lean protein source, from meat or from protein powder depending on your needs and preferences and then a simple carbohydrate source.
Try incorporating pre and post workout meals into your next workout. It may take some time to get used to it, but I am confident you will reap impressive results in no time. These meals are just about as important as the actual work you do in the gym in terms of the progress you are going to see – the nutritional portion is not something to take lightly.
Give it a try and let me know how it goes!