How many of us pay attention to this? Pre and post workout nutrition! the game changer!

There are 2 kinds of people. First-who visit the gym to visit the gym. Purpose-a little bit of exercise and more of fashion, trend, good for the image, social requirement kind of thing.

Second- People who are serious about making a change in their physical and mental well-being. This is a minority and my article today, is for the second category of people. We have been putting in the legwork in the gym trying to follow a good work out and nutrition program, however, we don’t emphasize much on pre-and post-workout nutrition. The pillars of the sport. it’s not considered significant simply ‘cause there is not much information on it. Well, let me tell you this, if there is anything which enhances one’s body’s ability to develop, achieve growth or transform, it is one’s indulgence in physical exercise along with nutrition and the key to that is, nutrition around your workouts. Your pre-and post-workout meals are by far the most important meals of the day! Yes! So is breakfast, lunch and dinner, I know! However, you eat that every day and you are probably doing it right. But let me ask you this, how much of emphasis do you put on your pre-workout meal? Ask yourselves honestly. Nothing wrong in admitting that it’s not considered important and that’s cause the science behind it is not clear. Let’s understand how we can use this important nutrition tool to make serious gains and transform our physique.

Let’s discuss pre-workout meal first. This depends a lot on what you train and the kind of workout you’re planning. If its endurance related, e.g. running a marathon or cardiovascular sessions then it’s different from weight training. Essentially, it’s a combination of moderate carbs and a quality protein in the right quantity which matters before a workout.

Carbohydrates- if you’re training will last long and includes endurance and cardio vascular exercises, you need to eat quality carbs. When you run, your body taps in on your glycogen and fat stores and upon depletion, it looks for alternative fuel source. The same could be muscle in case of less glycogen in the body. So, you want to ensure your glycogen stores are stocked and your body is not using muscle for fuel. Quality carbs do the trick here. When training with weights, your body requires energy in the short term to ensure you can push that weight in the gym.  High GI carbs(moderate quantity) which are digested quickly (around 30-40 grams, again, make sure it fits your macros) are good pre-workout. These carbs provide instant energy as they release insulin quickly, prevent muscle loss in case of lack of calories and encourage hypertrophy when you’re lifting heavy weights. Another important factor is the pump. This is the rate of blood that flows into your muscles which is a result of physical exercise. When you train on a low carb diet, it is difficult to get that fullness or pump and you feel low on energy as well. Your body’s low on glycogen. Completely opposite on days when your glycogen stores are optimal. Your body pulls carbohydrate and water into the muscle cell. Glycogen make your muscles look big and full. So, you need to hydrate and moderately carb up before a workout. This would essentially include a fruit or sweet potato or white rice or whole grains etc. Don’t go overboard as it could lead to an upset situation and make you uncomfortable. Look to consume between 30-40 grams.

Protein- why do we need protein before a workout? Your body is either catabolic or anabolic. Which means you are either breaking muscle or making it. There is no in-between here. Workouts are catabolic, which means, the process breaks down muscle tissue and we need to repair them. A combination of rest and the right nutrition help in effective recovery and promotes hypertrophy. Nutrition is anabolic. It rebuilds muscle. Protein provides you with amino acids, which is used by your body to repair broken tissues and help in the muscle building process. If you have protein pre-workout, your body has a supply of amino acids to help aid the process of recovery and promotes hypertrophy. Look for proteins which have a good strong amino acid profile. Egg whites, whey proteins are good examples. Dosage will depend on what your macros are. Ideally it should be between 25-40 grams.

Fats- This is one category of food that is not the best pre-workout. Fats slow down the digestion process because they are dense in nature. Which means if you consume a meal of carbs, protein and fats before a workout vs just carbs and protein, the former will slow your digestion causing distress and make you sluggish. Hence, we need to avoid fats before a workout. Your potential to quickly break down food for energy is better when you consume a carb and protein meal only. What I personally do is I keep my carbs around my workouts, pre-and post and the rest of the day my fuel source is fats.

Now, post workout nutrition. Our body’s immediate requirement post workout is to replenish glycogen levels. Which is making sure we eat carbs in the right quantity. There is a lot of conflicting info on whether to eat low GI carbs or high GI carbs. Both have a different impact on our body. Let me explain how.

Low GI carbs are broken down slowly and give you a gradual release of energy. Which is good when you are least active. When your activity level is low, you don’t need instant energy, in other words you don’t need an insulin spike. Hence, low GI carbs like oatmeal, brown rice etc are good options. However, post workout, your body is distressed due to the work you put in the gym and needs to be repaired. It has lost glycogen and the same needs to be replenished. A quick supply of energy will potentially aid the recovery process better. Fast digesting carbs supply instant energy. They are quickly broken down by the body and release insulin instantly adjusting your blood sugar levels. This is optimal post work out. So, you should be looking at consuming high GI carbs like sweet potato, white rice, etc post workout. They provide you with the necessary nutrients to replenish your glycogen stores instantly and there is very less chance of those carbs being stored as fat. The reason behind that is ‘cause your body will use majority of the carbs. Contrary to other parts of the day where the body’s ability to utilize carbs is not as efficient as compared to the post workout period. You still have to make sure the quantity you consume is not too much and it fits your macros, else, your fat stores will absorb the balance of carbs. Don’t eat more carbs than you need and don’t worry about spreading them evenly throughout the day. You can eat most of  your carbs around your workout. You want every gram of carbohydrate you consume to be utilized as an immediate fuel source

Over and above this, you need protein to ensure the body is getting a supply of amino acids which helps rebuild muscle tissue. Look for good quality protein and again, keep it around 30 grams. You can consume good fats like egg yolks, fatty fish, nuts, peanut butter etc post workout, however, make sure the proportion to protein and carbs is around 15-20 percent. Which means, you post workout macros should ideally be 50 percent protein, 30 percent carbs and the remaining 20 percent should be fats or 40-40-20 is also something you can follow.

Once you get your pre-and post-workout nutrition under control, the game changes completely. Look to eat an hour or two in advance pre-workouts and another meal within an hour or two post workouts. If you don’t feel like eating post workout it basically means you haven’t put in your best in the gym. This is more or less an accurate evaluation. If you expend considerable amount of energy in the gym, your body sends a signal to your brain to make up for the same. So, post workout hunger pangs are a good way to assess the effort you have put in the gym.

Work hard in the sweat room and enjoy your post workout reward!

We lift, therefore we are!

Cheers!

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