Nutrition should already be a HUGE part in your daily life. There are so many questions about what to eat before and after your workouts. Finding the right thing to eat can be a struggle at times, even for me! I’m going to break down my personal take on pre/post workout nutrition.
Since we’re talking about nutrition, I often see people saying healthy food is expensive. Check out my blog article “Eating Healthy On A Budget”. I’m breaking down everything you need to know to save money and to show you the math per serving sizes.
What you eat before a workout determines whether or not you will have the energy to achieve your greatest potential during each session. It makes a HUGE difference on eating before your workout. It gives you energy, strength, and keeps you focused. Having strength will help you bang out a few more reps or help you increase your weights. As much as I enjoy morning workouts, I do always plan my heavy leg days for the evening due to having more food for fuel! If you can squat heavy in the morning that’s honestly amazing! Pay attention to your nutrition before you train. You can help maximize how much your food is used to build muscle mass and minimize how much of it becomes fat.
The idea of pre workout food is to give your body exactly what it needs for an intense workout and to help your muscles grow. Your meal should include protein and slow digesting carbs.
Examples of some meals:
- Egg whites and some whole grain toast. Add some coconut oil for flavour on your toast.
- Oatmeal is one of my favourite meals to eat before a workout. Add a scoop of protein for some extra flavour! The slow-digesting oats keep you feeling full, focused and full of energy!
- Chicken and sweet potatoes: The meal that everyone knows for bodybuilders! Chicken has a ton of protein! 100 grams of chicken is 30 grams of protein! That’s about half a chicken breast. (Depending how big it is, of course).
Those are great meals if you plan on having lunch or dinner before you workout. If it’s during the week, I don’t have an really big meal before my workout. During the weekends, I’ll mostly have my breakfast or lunch before I train. When I do have a big meal I tend to give my body about an hour to 2 hours before the gym, depending how full and how I feel. Don’t wait 3-4 hours though, or you’ll lose those pre-workout nutrients!
There is a lot of information regarding pre/post workout nutrition. With all the conflicting advice and scientific studies on this topic, it’s hard to have a 100% certain answer to many of these pre and post-workout nutrition questions.
There is also different information going around when it comes to having fat in your diet for pre-workout. People have stated that it can be difficult to digest, people also have stated that it’s not bad. My personal opinion is, I don’t think it’s a good idea having a lot of fat before a workout, however if you want toast with PB, go for it. I just recommend having a higher carb and protein intake before your workout instead of fats.
My pre-workout snacks:
I tend to go for snacks in the evening before my workout, here are some things I like to eat before hand. Not everything will be healthy, but it’s a great way to treat myself, since I’m working out and using the snacks for fuel! Don’t take that the wrong way, with always eating “unhealthy” snacks before your workout, we don’t want you feeling bloated. I’m just currently bulking, so I try to eat more foods that are higher in calories, carbs, etc. I know what works for my body. I still try to keep the sugar intake low!
- Mashed sweet potatoes with cinnamon on top. Tastes like a dessert! I promise. Top it with some stevia if you need a bit extra sweetness.
- I do love having some good ol’ cereal before my workout. I like LIFE, which has cinnamon flavour, and the sugar is really low compared to cinnamon toast crunch. I enjoy plain cereals, such as Corn Flakes and Rice Krispies. With those I tend to add a bit of chocolate milk powder if I have some on hand for a bit of flavour.
- Protein powder, banana, and some nuts
- Muscle gainer protein shake
I love making a huge shake that combines oats, milk, PB, fruit, egg whites, and sometimes cottage cheese. You can add anything! These are great for getting in some extra calories.
- PB on toast with honey
- Apple and protein shake
- Lenny and Larry cookie. Which is a “protein cookie.” Still a decent amount of sugar, but it’s my treat. I also love Daryl’s protein bars.
- Good ol’ oatmeal! I eat this stuff sometimes 2-3 times a day! It’s so versatile. You can warm it up or have it cold. You can add so many different flavours and toppings! Read my overnight oat recipes to get more ideas on what you can do.
- One serving of candy
It’s not necessary to eat anything during your workout. Just a reminder to drink lots of water! Add in your BCAA’s if that’s what you like! 🙂
BCAAs fuel your muscles during training, which can help give you the edge you need to push your limits. BCAAs helps preserve your stores of glycogen, the primary fuel your muscles use for energy production. This means your body has a reliable energy source to tap into while you work out, which can keep you going.
There is also a lot of talk about post-workout nutrition. Some say to eat right away and some say that it doesn’t matter… I’m not a nutritionist or a trainer, however with my own opinion and experience I do prefer eating a little something right after my workouts and feeding my muscles. I don’t eat right away, I walk home from the gym then find stuff to eat, so it’s not like it’s ASAP. Try to eat as your post workout meal or snack as soon as you can, that way you will be ready to eat again soon!
When you’re working out, your muscles use up their glycogen stores for fuel. Some of the proteins in your muscles ends up getting damaged. After your intense workout your body tries to replenish and rebuild its glycogen stores and repairs those muscle proteins.
Eating after your workout helps with growth, restoring that glycogen, and recovery. Eating protein helps with the muscle repair and it also gives you the building blocks that’s required to build muscle and new tissue. Carbs help your body’s glycogen that are used as fuel during exercise, and consuming carbs after your workout helps replenish them. I would suggest eating lower fat for this as well.
I tend to eat some things that are the same as my pre workout snack. Sometimes I just wait and have my dinner, depending on if it’s cooked and ready to eat. I do for the most part always have my protein shake after the gym.
- Rice cakes with PB and jam or plain
- Yogurt with fruit
- Apple or banana
- Oatmeal/ Steel cut oats (Overnight oat recipes)
- One serving of candy
If you’re not able to eat within 45 minutes of working out, it’s important to not go much longer than 2 hours before eating a meal. Your body needs food! Don’t forget to replenish your water intake.
In the end, there is no perfect pre-post-workout nutrition regimen for everyone. Try and do as best as you can for the best results. All these tips can help you maximize your workouts!
If you haven’t read my “Understanding Macros” page, check it out. It will help you understand more about how much food you should be eating for your goals. (Losing weight, gaining muscle mass, & maintaining body weight). For every goal you should be eating a different amount of calories, protein, carbs, and fats!