What should you eat before and after your workouts?
Does it matter if I eat before or after I workout?
Yes, it is important to make good food choices both before and after your workouts. I'll talk about each seperately.
Before I go on though, I'd just like to remind you that water
is highly important to have both before and after exercise. It helps with both performance and recovery.
Pre-exercise nutrition is important for performance.
Every 6 months or so I do a Kempo grading which is a high intensity exercise session which lasts around 4-5 hours.Case 1, a grading 2 years ago:
I was "carbo-loading", that is, eating pasta, bread potatoes etc. the night before. I also got up in the morning before the event and had porridge and eggs.Case 2, a grading 2 months ago:
I ate large quantities of fruit and vegetables the night before, this is very similar to my regular diet. On the morning of the grading I ate sweet fruits and drank date juice throughout the exercise session.
In case 1
I was completely exhausted throughout the grading. I think the complex carb's dehydrated me and also caused me to be tired.
In case 2
I had abundant levels of energy. It was the best grading I have ever had...I even felt like I could have gone on for longer.
Here's the conclusions I draw from this.
- Eat lightly before the workout.
- Eat fruit, your best source of fuel.
Post exercise nutrition is important for recovery.
After you have finished a session of high-intensity exercise, your muscle glycogen levels are depleted. It usually takes around 2 hours of high intensity aerobic exercise to achieve this level of depletion. Muscle glycogen is what your muscles use for fuel.
At this point, your muscles are screaming out for more glycogen. 2 things happen during this time.
So time is of the essence.
- An enzyme, glycogenase is in abundant supply in your bloodstream. This enzyme effectively allows you to double the speed at which you can convert blood glycogen into muscle glycogen. Keep in mind, this only happens for a very short period of time after your workout. - Approximately 1-2 hours.
- Your body is in a catabolic state, meaning it will break down muscle tissue to replenish your glycogen levels. That's NOT what you want.
At this stage it is important to take full advantage of your increased ability to rebuild muscle glycogen. It is also important to halt your muscle loss by replacing the muscle glycogen as fast as possible. Therefore, you need nutrients which are easily assimilated - like simple sugars. These will boost your blood sugar levels back to normal and begin the process of replenishing your muscle glycogen levels.
As for what foods are the best to provide these simple sugars, there are many opinions from different people out there. And I think that many of them are driven based on how much profit is in it for them.
My personal opinion is that as people we have been given everything we need to survive on this planet. I am pretty confident that whole natural foods can supply you with everything you need.
I think that banana's and other high sugar fruits like dates and mango's are perfect foods for providing you with easily digested simple sugars. They also contain reasonable levels of protein too.
Another thing to consider is fats. Try to stay away from fats right after your workout. Fat just slows down your digestion, which is the opposite of what you want to achieve.
Try out those suggestions and see how they work for you...
Wishing you the best in health, fitness and freedom
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