A well-planned workout should begin and end with eating the right foods. How you fuel your body before and after a workout can affect both the efficiency of the workout and how quickly you recover. Social media shows us many different nutrition trends that may not be the most truthful when it comes to their effectiveness. There are plenty of researched-backed methods to help you decide how to eat before and after your workout.
It doesn’t matter if your workout is first thing in the morning or at the end of the day, the last meal you eat before exercise should be well balanced and have plenty of carbs and proteins. During the workout, your body is going to be dipping into the energy reserves stored in the body as carbs and protein. The goal of your meal before working out is to make sure these reserves are as full as possible. Carbs are the main energy source during a workout and without them, fatigue will set in more quickly. The protein helps prevent muscle breakdown and allows for faster recovery. To ensure there isn’t any abdominal discomfort during the workout, a meal high in carbs and protein should be consumed at least 30 minutes before your workout. If you feel a pre-workout snack is necessary, try to make it something that will digest quickly such as a banana, sandwich with white bread, or white rice.
There is a common belief that you need to consume protein immediately after a workout. This is simply not true. In reality, protein synthesis, the process which repairs muscle tissue, will remain at peak efficiency for at least 2 hours after the workout has ended. In those two hours, try to take in a good source of protein to improve muscle recovery. Another recovery method athletes may want to take advantage of is something called the “carb window.” For the first two hours after a workout, the body's stress hormone cortisol will remain elevated. The hormone tells specific glucose transporters in the muscle to allow sugar to be directly stored as glycogen. Essentially during this time almost all carbs consumed go right to recovering muscles and improving recovery times significantly. If you are not an athlete and are just looking to burn fat, stay away from carbs for the first two hours after a workout. With no glycogen, the body will continue to burn fat for energy for those two hours.
If you are an athlete or just looking to lose weight, having a well-balanced diet should always be your first goal. A balanced diet improves the efficiency of any workout and improves the utilization of fat for energy. While the recommendations made above may be the optimal way to eat for your workout, what is best for you is what works for you. Each person is different and has different schedules that make some of these recommendations impossible. If you are able to have a well-balanced diet and get at least 150 minutes of physical activity a week, then you should be able to meet any of your health goals.
If you need help timing your meals, or are just looking for advice on what can improve your fitness goals, schedule an appointment with your Rochester Chiropractor. Sign up for our nutrition program and our chiropractor in Rochester can help create a plan to create simple lifestyle changes to meet any of your nutrition and fitness goals. Schedule a free nutrition consultation today.