In the age of intermittent fasting, dietary trends,and more, can be confusing very quickly. And that makes it even more challenging to decide what to eat for a workout. Should it be a low-carbohydrate snack ? Or maybe a protein-rich ? Whatever your nutritional philosophy, you want to eat something that will fuel you during your training session to give you energy and help you achieve your fitness goals.
So how do you know what's best for you? I turned to an expert who knows a thing or two about refueling for performance: Rasa Troup, a former Olympic dietitian who specializes in sports and performance nutrition. Even if you are not an athlete, the tips and scientific findings below will help you better understand how you can refuel andwith food.
Do you have to eat for a workout?
Eating before training makes some people unpleasant, while others prefer having food in their system to help them through a training session. But although what (or if) you eat before training depends on the person, there are some important guidelines that everyone should keep in mind when deciding whether or not to eat.
First, if you really train early in the morning, chances are that you don't even have time to think about food, let alone prepare something before you leave the house. But exercising on an empty stomach may not be fun.
According to Troup, the science of fast training is not decisive, and she does not necessarily recommend it to her clients. According to her experience with customers, they cannot train as intensively as they have some fuel. She says that shorter or less intense workouts don't give you much of anthat helps your body burn more fat even after you're done exercising.
Nevertheless, Troup says that some people choose to train on an empty stomach because there is some evidence that it helps your body burn around 20 percent more fat during training. But although that sounds promising, Troup says that if you find that fasting makes you feel bad or harder to recover from, it is not worth the potentially higher fat-burning benefit.
The best things to eat before your training
Fueling your training is not an exact science. Although some foods are known to give you more energy and support your muscles (for example, proteins and carbohydrates), you want to choose foods that you know are easy to digest and do not cause stomach problems (unless you like to stop halfway through training for a break in the bathroom … no one ever said.
are your go-to nutrients when it comes to nurturing workouts because carbohydrates give your muscles energy and protein helps restore your muscles The best way to feed a workout is to have a protein and carbohydrate-rich meal that you eat about three to four hours before a workout, according to Troup.
If it's been a while since your last meal and you want to boost your energy with a snack before a workout, try to tim it about one to two hours before you exercise, which should include easily digestible carbohydrates such as grains, fruits or vegetables, and proteins from sources such as dairy, meat or protein powder (such as collagen peptides or whey protein isolate). Troup offered a banana with peanut butter or Greek yogurt with some fruit as examples.
Foods to avoid pre-workout
One thing that is really good for your health, but not for your training? Fiber. "Try to avoid bulky, fibrous foods that can be in your stomach (such as broccoli, cruciferous vegetables, or beans). You want some food that doesn't burden you [by sitting] in the stomach so that blood flow enters your stomach – you want that the blood flow goes to your muscle tissue, "Troup said.
The same goes for high-fat foods (even those of the healthy variety) because fat takes longer to digest, meaning that your stomach will compromise the blood flow that you want to bring to your muscles to help you train your performance.
Is timing important?
If you've ever seen someone take a protein shake when leaving the gym, they probably endorse the popular & # 39; 30-minute line & # 39; which many think is the ideal time to consume protein after exercising. But is it so important to smash proteins immediately after training?
According to Troup, there is science behind this timing window (she has her pro-athlete clients consume 25 grams of protein 15-30 minutes after training), but for the average person who is not a professional athlete or training for an endurance marathon or triathlon, it is not so crucial. "Most of us have 24 hours to recover from session to session, so that specific 30-minute window is not that crucial," Troup said.
Not that protein is not important after your training – it certainly is. But Troup says it's better to make sure you get enough protein by making balanced meals throughout the day than worrying about the 30-minute window. This is because eating enough protein during the day can help encourage muscle recovery and promote good muscle composition. Troup recommends 20-50 grams of protein per meal (depending on your height, muscle mass and weight).
What you eat after a workout
Your post-workout meals should look similar to a pre-workout meal: heavy on fruits and vegetables, and contain healthy protein and fat. As Troup said earlier, protein is very important for muscle recovery, so consuming after a workout will promote the recovery process. And consuming carbohydrates is also important because you probably took them out of your energy supplies during your training.
"You need both proteins and carbohydrates to repair muscle damage," says Troup.
How supplements can help
Although Troup has a "food first" approach when it comes to nutrition, she notes that supplements can be a useful tool. In particular collagen peptides, nitrates (from beets) and whey protein.
Consuming collagen peptides before training, such as adding them to your coffee, can be particularly useful because they provide proteins that help with muscle development. Collagen can also help prevent injury during training. Nitrates (found in beets) appear to improve performance and endurance, but it is not necessary to puff tons of beet juice, as supplements or concentrated shots can help you get nitrates more efficiently.
Troup also recommends whey protein in a pinch because milk is useful for muscle growth. "We also know that milk appears to be the biggest stimulator of muscle protein synthesis, so consuming chocolate milk or whey protein isolate could be a good way to improve muscle protein," Troup said.
The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a doctor or other qualified health care professional for any questions you may have about a medical condition or health goals.