Food for Fuel: What You Need to Eat Before and After Training
- DAN NORTH
Nutrition and training go hand in hand. Here’s one way to put it, you can’t trick your body. If you’re consuming trash then your performance in the gym will reflect that.
Here’s what you need to eat before, after, and sometimes during training.
Pre workout nutrition is going to play a direct role on your performance, so don’t underestimate the value of a solid meal prior to your training sessions. A healthy combination of protein and carbs is usually your best bet.
2-3 hours before your session, it is best to have something that your body breaks down slowly and that provides long-lasting energy. This can include foods such as oatmeal and potatoes. It would also be a good idea to pair these foods with something rich in protein, such as meat, eggs, beans, etc. This is your base meal where you are looking to feel full and satisfied while giving your body an optimal amount of time to break it down and store it as energy to be used during training.
About an hour or so before you lift, you need fuel. So it’s good to have something that digests fast and your body can break down quickly. This can include fruits like berries or bananas, to give you the ‘boost’ of energy you need before you go to the gym.
Depending on the length of your training session, your body may require nourishment during workouts. This is typically recommended for sessions lasting two to three hours where weightlifters are working with max-effort lifts with a volume of warm up attempts and longer rest periods.
Ideally, weightlifters would want to consume foods that are going to be processed ASAP and converted into energy efficiently. To get a boost of energy, items high in sugar and carbs are best for intra workout snacks.
Note that all sessions do not require intra workout snacks, but are merely helpful with training sessions laster longer than two hours to keep energy systems intact and performing at an optimal level throughout the workout.
Protein and carb-based foods are needed for post-workout recovery. Protein helps replenish damaged muscle fibers, while carbs aid in protein synthesis and make it happen faster. Simple, high-glycemic carbs are optimal for post workout recovery along with fast-digesting protein. Usually a protein shake with a banana is a great bet 30-40 minutes after your workout and an hour or two before having a meal with protein and lower glycemic carbs (ex. potatoes, rice, oatmeal).
Post workout nutrition is so important and cannot be overlooked by athletes. Far too many times, weightlifters will work hard in the gym and completely neglect their nutrition. What’s the point of training if you’re not going to eat foods that are making you stronger and better?