Fitness, Nutrition, Whole Health

What to Eat Before and After an Exercise Session

Pre-Workout

It is important to consume a snack/meal that contains the appropriate nourishment prior to an exercise session.  Pre-workout nutrition should include carbs (carbohydrates) and easily digestible protein.

To avoid indigestion issues and to be able to exercise to full your potential, this pre-workout nourishment should be consumed 1 to 3 hours before starting your exercise session.

The reason for this is that during exercise your body’s blood supply is primarily going to your muscles and therefore, not available to aid in the digestive process.  (Any food left in your stomach will just sit in there, causing indigestion.)

Post-Workout

Consuming the appropriate nourishment after your workout is important for your body, too.   WHY?

After a workout the body needs to replace glycogen stores and repair / rebuild muscle. This nourishment should consist primarily of protein and carbs.

Glycogen is the storage form of glucose (sugar).  In the body, glycogen is stored in the liver and in muscles. During exercise this stored glycogen is converted to glucose and used as an energy source. So after exercise the body needs to replenish these glycogen stores.

Also during exercise, muscle structure can become somewhat damaged due to lengthening and contracting. (This is what causes pain the next day or two after exercise.)  So, the body needs nourishment to help repair any muscle damage, too.

Eating a ratio of 3 carbs : 1 protein within 30 minutes to an hour after exercise helps to hasten this repair.  Your body will absorb glucose and restore lost glycogen most efficiently within this window of time.

Waiting longer than two hours will decrease the rate of glycogen restoration by about half.  Easily digestible protein is needed to stimulate muscle repair/growth,  Also, don’t forget to drink water and replace electrolytes.

About 1-2 hours afterwards be sure to eat a good meal  At this meal feel free to include your daily allotment of healthy dietary fats. 

Below are a few Pre and Post workout menu examples.

Pre-workout menu ideas-

Bagel or toast:

  • choose the right type of bagel and be careful what you put on it.
  • pick whole wheat or plain bagel rather than a whole grain bagel. Whole grains are digested at a slower rate.
  • put some jelly on it or a slice of chicken/turkey or cooked egg whites, NO cream cheese or egg yolk. (Cream cheese/egg yolk is a fat which stays in the stomach longer, so not available for quick digestion and therefore not available as an energy source for exercise.)

Low Fat Yogurt:

  • contains carbs and protein.
  • avoid it if you are lactose intolerant.

Smoothie:

  • make it with Whey protein and easily digestible carbohydrates (banana, berries).

Caffine, helps to improve:

  • performance
  • strength
  • energy
  • stimulate fat burning.

Post workout menu examples-

Glass of milk:

  • chocolate or white milk.
  • low fat.

Protein shake:

  • containing up to 10 percent carbohydrates.

Protein Bars:

  • containing the right calorie count.
  • check the nutrition labels.
  • make sure there’s only one serving in the bar.

Scrambled Egg Whites With Reduced-Fat Cheese:

  • low-calorie mini-meal.
  • good for a little protein.

AVOID:

Sugary/artificial fructose sports drinks, smoothies or soda pop drinks:

  • blocks Human Growth Hormone production.

Hard to digest foods that delay nutrient availability:

  • steak (or other hard to digest protein).
  • spicy or high fiber foods (hard to digest).
  • processed foods.
  • fatty / fried / fast foods.
  • low-carb meals
  • candy

Avoid eating nothing:

  • your body needs recharging.
  • if you don’t eat, your body cannot recharge and will consume muscle.
  • it is essential to maintain muscle.

 

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