Do you eat something beneficial before your workout? Do you drink anything during your workout except water? Do you take advantage of the “window of opportunity” after an intense bout of exercise? If the answer is yes to all three questions you can stop reading now. If any of the questions have you wondering what I could be talking about, continue reading. One of the easiest ways to improve any sports nutrition plan is understanding what to eat and drink before, during and after your workout, practice, or game. If you’re putting in the hard work, why not maximize your body’s ability to gain strength, lose fat, and even decrease muscle soreness.
The content and timing of your nutrition before, during and after a workout is vital to enhancing your performance and results. Allowing your body to have carbohydrates and protein allows for a powerful rebuilding process to occur in your body called protein synthesis. Protein synthesis is literally the body’s process of rebuilding broken down muscle tissue.
Pre-workout meals can sometimes be difficult to recommend because what works for one person could cause another to feel sick or sluggish. Ideally your last meal should be two hours before your workout to ensure proper digestion before putting yourself through an intense training session. For people who like to workout first thing in the morning, your last meal before bed becomes a vital component to your pre-workout strategy. Although your last meal should be well before you start to workout, you can also add a pre-workout drink or small snack that can help further fuel your workout and spare muscle glycogen (the fuel muscles use to function during training). This drink or snack should have 30-40 grams of carbohydrates and 10-20 grams of protein, and should be low in fat. Ideally having a carbohydrate rich beverage with added branch chain amino acids, also known as BCAA’s (building blocks of protein) can not only help preserve muscle energy but also give your body a head start with muscle rebuilding. It has been shown that even a moderate intensity workout program can deplete 30-50% of your muscles glycogen (energy) so having this pre-workout drink can help improve your work capacity. This same carbohydrate/BCAA drink can be sipped on during a workout to help maintain energy reproduction and recovery. Immediately after your workout is also an opportunity to spike your protein synthesis and restore your muscles’ energy. Your body is extremely receptive to the nutrients you supply it with immediately after you’re done with a workout, so its vitally important that you take advantage of this “window of opportunity”. Drinking or eating a carbohydrate and protein rich meal within 15 minutes of completing your workout is highly recommended.
Here are some examples of optimal pre/during/post workout, practice or competition nutrition:
1: 16 oz of water
2: 16 oz of Gatorade
3: 1 serving of EAS Muscle ArmorAfter
1: ½ can of tuna fish on crackers
2: 16 oz Gatorade w/ ½ EAS Myoplex Lite Bar
3: 16 oz Chocolate Milk or Myoplex Original Formula