Pre- and post-workout nutrition can be extremely simple. Read this article to learn exactly what you should eat before and after your workout.
For several decades, we all huddled in the corners of the gym and threw our training drinks at each other as a sacrifice to the god of increments. We had to get the proteins in before the anabolic window closed. It was part of our Bible, we were completely drawn to it.
Then we found out that the anabolic window was probably not even real and that we could not eat for several hours. Many called it the death of nutrition timing, but they missed something. Actually, more than just something. They have missed about 30 solid years of research, which shows that an important aspect of the timing of nutrition is before (and during) training, not after it.
Yes, if maximum gains and optimal performance are what you are looking for you should start thinking about what you are eating before training.
The myth of fasting training
People have been prescribed fast training for decades, especially on cardio, to maximize fat burning. It began with an observation that stated that if you have not eaten and are training at a low intensity, your body will oxidize more fat to fuel than when you have already eaten. While this observation is very interesting, it does not mean that this short-term fat oxidation will lead you to more fat burning.
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A few years ago, the researchers investigated and showed that 8 weeks of fasting training had no real benefits for changing body fat, compared to training not on an empty stomach. So it seems that the fact that training on an empty stomach brings real benefits to our body can be set aside.
So what does that tell us? This means that there is no real reason not to eat before training. Thus, no justification on your part about how you did not eat before training so you will be drawn is not supported by any evidence.
More training = more gains
Over the last 50-60 years, the idea has circulated that high-volume training is the key to growth. Recently, a series of studies that have tried to examine what kind of training is best for muscle growth has been shown to be correct.
If you look at all those studies together, you’ll see that low-set, high-weight, and high-set workouts, reasonably heavy workouts, yield almost identical results in terms of muscle growth when we count the total training volume (which is basically the amount the work you do).
You’re probably asking yourself, “This article is about training nutrition, so why is it exposing myths about fasting training here, but talking about training volume as the key to gaining weight?”
Perfect question! Let me tell you why. Based on these two things, it is quite clear that your pre-workout nutrition must focus on:
To be eaten, before you go trainingTo maximize the amount of work you can do in a given workout
The largest ergogenic aid in the world
There are countless studies on supplements that increase your work capacity during training (aka ergogenic assistance), and I dare say that over the last 20 years, more than $ 50 trillion has been spent on expensive pre-workout supplements.
Despite the beautiful formulations and the effort to find the latest pre-workout supplement, there is one thing that has repeatedly proven to be a powerful ergogenic tool for long workouts: Carbohydrates.
Yes, I tell you that pre-workout carbohydrates are one of the best supplements on the planet when it comes to maximizing the quality of your workout. Here’s how and why it works and what makes carbs key supplements for your workout.
When you start exercising with moderate intensity, your body begins to use muscle glycogen as fuel for your workout, and as time goes on, you begin to use blood glucose to keep things moving.
Glucose from your pre-workout meal begins to flow through your bloodstream, not long after you take it, and continues to appear 1-2 hours after you have eaten. This gives the muscle tissue extra fuel and keeps your workout going.
With this knowledge, would you probably guess that by consuming carbohydrates just before or during training, we will increase performance and training capacity? Well, that’s exactly what science proves. There are very clear performance benefits of consuming carbohydrates before and during training.
PROTEIN ROBIA CARBOHYDRATES EVEN BETTER
We have just argued that carbohydrates are key to improving training capacity and increasing training volume, but it seems that proteins can make carbohydrates even better in terms of increasing performance during training and can help increase the rate of regeneration.
In terms of results, pre-workout protein consumption, especially in combination with carbohydrates, has been shown to improve muscle growth. Even without carbohydrates, consuming the protein itself before training can improve protein synthesis in the muscles. So even if you don’t have a bunch of bananas, a little whey protein before training can do a lot.
How much do I need before training?
So, now we know that before training you need some carbohydrates and proteins to maximize your training capacity, regeneration and your gains. But how many grams do you need to eat?
It can be either very, very complicated, but super simple, it depends on how much you want to get. To get 95% benefits, follow this method:
If you train certain parts of the body, consume about 20 grams of protein and about 60 to 80 grams of carbohydrates about 30-60 minutes before training.
If you train the whole body in one workout and your workout is extended (more than 90 minutes), consume about 40 grams of protein and about 120-160 grams of carbohydrates about 30-60 minutes before training.
It really doesn’t have to be that complicated.
Exercise nutrition is not completely dead
Okay, maybe I got a little carried away by the name. Exercise nutrition is actually far from dead. The study, which people mostly cite, looks at muscle growth, strength, and a very binary view of whether proteins have been consumed within two hours or not, nothing more, more specific. When you actually look at the rest of the parameters, what is enough after training matters.
When we talk about where training is most important, one word comes to my mind: REGENERATION.
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One of the most important aspects of sports nutrition is that consuming carbohydrates within 30-60 minutes after training allows the glycogen in your muscles to recover faster than if you waited for several hours. So while your muscle growth may not be directly limited by waiting for protein, muscle glycogen will definitely not replenish very quickly if you miss carbohydrates.
If you consume about 0.5-0.7 grams of carbohydrates per pound of body weight within 30 minutes of training, you are covered and doing what you need to ensure that you start regenerating properly.
Also, it doesn’t matter if the carbohydrates are in the form of a liquid shake or a solid meal with rice or potatoes. Both will help you maximize regeneration.
Not only does it look like the training nutrition helps to regenerate, but it may depend on your gains, but it may not be immediately after. In the Nutrient Survey, Kerksick concluded that consuming protein and carbohydrates (in amounts similar to the pre-workout recommendations above) helps increase muscle protein synthesis and muscle growth.
Pre-workout nutrition is probably more important than pre-workout nutrition, as it is one of the easiest ways to maximize the quality and quantity of training. Carbohydrates are important for maintaining a high workload, and protein can increase carbohydrates and help with regeneration.
Consuming 20 grams of protein together with 60-80 grams of carbohydrates before normal training can prepare you really nicely. For longer, more intense sessions, it is more optimal to use 40 grams of protein and 120-160 grams of carbohydrates.
While pre-workout nutrition is more important, post-workout nutrition is also a key aspect of optimizing your muscle regeneration and growth.
The window for carbohydrate consumption after training, which maximizes glycogen regeneration, is shorter, for about 30-60 minutes, while the protein consumption for muscle growth has a wider window from 1-3 hours (possibly 4-6).
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