Many people underestimate the importance of sound nutrition in terms of performing your best during your exercise sessions and seeing the results you are working towards post workout. The amount, type, and timing of nutritional intake all play a large role in the success of an athlete. If you are training and not seeing the results you want, it could be because of what you are eating.
The diet recommended for an athlete can be very different from a diet recommended for a normal healthy person. For example they’ll need more energy to perform at a high effort and of course more protein to build their muscle mass.
There are three main aspects you should think about when it comes to performance nutrition:
- Timing: What and when you eat before, after and during a workout.
- Fueling: How to make sure you have enough fuel and energy to see you through training.
- Recovery: Making sure your body will recover as quickly and as efficiently as possible based on the foods you eat.
The timing of both your pre and post workout meals is critical to the success of your training.
Pre Workout: 30-60 minutes pre-workout.
Post Workout: As soon as you can (up to 2 hours after).
Your pre workout meal is important for fueling your workout. It’s the best time to have simple sugars also. If you have a meal that is too heavy, your body will be too focused on digestion rather than fueling your workout for optimal performance. A banana or 1 cup of fruit of your choice make the perfect pre workout snack.
Yoghurt and Mixed Fruit
The quicker, the better is what we like to say when it comes to feeding hungry muscles. Your recovery time is highly dependent on the quality of your post workout meal. Think about it – the faster you can recover the more often and better you can train, and the better results you will see! If you don’t give your body enough nutrition after your workout, you will force it to start breaking down muscle to recover itself.
Your largest meal of the day should be after training. The right combination of macronutrients will help protein to be shuttled into your muscles, instead of being converted into dreaded fat. We all know we need protein post workout, but protein alone is actually not enough. A 1:1 ratio between carbohydrates and protein is ideal. You need carbohydrates post workout for two main reasons: to restore glycogen stores and to stimulate protein synthesis via insulin. Avoid refined carbohydrates which will spike your insulin levels without doing much good for your body – wholegrains, sweet potato, oats, and beans are examples of good carbs that you should be loading up on. Because your post workout feeding should be designed to promote the most rapid delivery of carbohydrates and protein to your muscles, fats should be avoided during this time. Eating fat during the post workout period may slow the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates and proteins.
A lot of electrolytes are lost from our bodies when we sweat. So remember to include veggies and fruit as part of your post workout meal to make sure you are replacing lost minerals, vitamins, and electrolytes.
Post Workout Meals:
Going to the gym to burn off all the weekend sins is a flawed concept. If you pay attention to what you eat and eat specifically to your training goals, you will see a huge difference in your performance and results you’re after.