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What To Eat Before and After You Workout

Saturday, July 14, 2012

This is a subject that brings a lot of confusion, and understandably so. Thankfully, there is a short answer: Protein and Carbs.

Both protein and carbs work in conjunction to both fuel and repair your muscles. Easy 'nuff, right?

But there are a few additional things that may come in handy to know:

- First of all, fat intake slows digestion. So if you want to eat before your workout to fuel you a little fat is Okay (although not necessary), because it keeps you from blowing through the nutrients quickly and running out of steam before your workout is done. For me, this typically is a whole egg and three or four egg whites scrambled together along with 1/3 C of plain (not instant- bad for you!) dry oatmeal, cooked. The fat is in the egg yolk. However, after a work out it would be ideal (not necessary, but ideal) to keep fat intake to a minimum so that the carbs and protein can get into your muscles as quickly as possible. Whey protein is a very fast digesting protein and the carbs in fruit are also a quickly-digesting sugar. So if you have a scoop of whey mixed in water or skim milk and a banana on the way home from the gym you can fuel your body optimally.

- If you work out later in the day and eat meals every 3 hours or so that have both protein and carbs in them, you really don't need to worry too much about what you eat before or after you work out, because your body has both nutrients already continually fueling it.

- If you work out first thing in the morning, you need to give it a little more thought. At this point, it becomes more about personal goals and how much food you can stomach before a workout. For instance, if you are someone who is interested in burning fat, there is a school of thought that says doing cardio on an empty stomach burns more fat. The reason for this is that, presumably, there is little glycogen in the cells and the system goes strait to fat for fuel. (I'm doubtful about this for reasons that will take another blog, but for now let's assume it is a likelihood that you do indeed burn more fat doing cardio on an empty tummy.) This would, of course, be best accomplished first thing in the morning.

However, if you want to do your strength training at the same time of day as your cardio, you stand the potential of running into a problem, because you may not have enough energy to lift weights to your maximum capacity without something in your system to fuel you. I've seen some fitness competitors manage this by doing the cardio on an empty stomach, then eating a little something right in the gym and proceeding on to weight lifting.

For me personally the solution is to eat a full breakfast and wait about an hour before lifting (it takes me that long after I've eaten to get my household in order and myself driven to the gym). I do my weight lifting first, while I am at my freshest and I have the most energy (it's always a priority for me over cardio,anyhow). Then, after my muscles have had a chance to deplete some of the glycogen from the carbs from lifting, I go on to my cardio.

If you are someone who gets an upset stomach if you eat anything before you work out..... well, Duh! Don't eat! :-D

- As a last point, I'd like to express that if you don't do any/all/some of this, please don't think your workout is a waste. The truth is that most, if not all, of this is splitting hairs. The important thing is that you both exercise and eat clean (minimal processed foods). Period. If you are a fitness competitor or model these things can add up to make the difference that gets you the trophy or translates best for the camera lens. For the rest of us, these are good things to know but not necessary rules to live by.

The truth is that for the everyday person, eating clean and training dirty is enough. Your body will thank you!
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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

GEMINIGEM6 1/26/2014 5:42PM

    Great info! Thanks!

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FITSMALLCLOTHES 7/17/2012 1:42AM

    emoticon

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CICI510 7/16/2012 2:05PM

    Awesome post!! emoticon

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TRIANGLE-WOMAN 7/15/2012 1:09PM

    "eating clean and training dirty"

I love that!

Thanks for the great pointers. I'm learning to love my smoothies!

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PURPLE180 7/14/2012 3:12PM

    Thank you for the info great blog!

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XOX_EMILY_XOX 7/14/2012 2:04PM

    I love how you put things in perspective, and kept it simple. Each person's body responds differently, because everyBODY is different! You have to try it to see what works for you.

Recently I've taken the carbs (starches and fruits) out of my pre/post workout meals, and I'm seeing a difference in my body comp. I know now that having pre/post workout carbs is great for when I want to maintain or build muscle, but I need to cut them when I want to lean down. Knowledge is power :)

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ILOVEJIM851991 7/14/2012 1:00PM

    emoticon good advice

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PINKNFITCARLA 7/14/2012 12:04PM

    Thanks for sharing!

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IRP1114 7/14/2012 11:58AM

    Thank you ;-)!

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SCOUTMOM715 7/14/2012 11:00AM

    emoticon for another fantastic blog! Thanks for all the great info. emoticon

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ROCKMAN6797 7/14/2012 7:56AM

    "Eating clean and training dirty...." I love it! :)
Whey protein and a banana are my standard go-to recovery foods, good to know that I am doing my body good!
Thanks for the great information, I absolutely enjoy reading your blogs!

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RUN_BAKE_BLOG 7/14/2012 7:29AM

    Great info, thanks for sharing!

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PRAYINGSUZIE 7/14/2012 1:34AM

    Thank you! This was an awesome blog!

Suzie

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K-GETTING-FIT 7/14/2012 1:06AM

    Another fabulous post!!! Addresses the question I see the most around the boards. You're the best babe:) Will definitely keep this one saved and share your blog link when I see it pop up! Want to just say how much I appreciate all the info you share. You have helped me out more times than you know:)

Have a blessed weekend!!!

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CHIBIKARATE 7/14/2012 12:26AM

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