You may have it mentioned before that cooking in the kitchen is very important for building muscle and losing weight. The reason why proper nutrition is important is building muscle starts in the kitchen and not at the gym. Nutrition is an essential component of fitness. In this article, I’d like to focus on what you should eat and drink before working out and after.
Before exercising, you need to power your body so that you can get the most out of your workout. It’s only then that you can adequately handle the physical stress that comes with a hard workout of lifting weights at the gym, running, or even playing a sport. Specifically, you’ll want your pre-workout meal to be able to accomplish the following goals:
- Provide you with adequate energy
- Reduce muscle glycogen depletion
- Reduce muscle breakdown
As your body relies on glycogen stores to fuel you through your exercise, you’ll want to focus on carbohydrates (specifically low glycemic carbs) as your first choice of food to consume prior to exercising. You should focus on low glycemic carbohydrates, which will provide a steady stream of energy to your body, instead of high glycemic carbohydrates which are rapidly released into the bloodstream, causing a quick rise in energy, followed by a crash before you even get to the gym. Some examples of low GI foods include fruits, vegetables, whole-grain bread, and oatmeal.
You’ll also want to include protein in the mix as these are the building blocks of muscle. You should focus on a slow digesting protein such as casein so that your body is adequately supplied with the amino acids that build muscle throughout the workout.
I would recommend about 60% – 70% of your calories coming from carbs and the rest coming from protein with a minimal amount coming from fat and to have this type of meal about 60 minutes up to 40 minutes prior to your workout. On the way to your workout, I would recommend having a piece of fruit (banana or apple) or other simple sugar which can reduce the amount of glycogen used during whatever exercise you perform.
Your post workout meal plays the more significant role when it comes to supplying your body with everything that is necessary to repair, replenish, recover and adapt to the training stimulus that has been provided during your workout.
Specifically, the goal of the POST workout meal is to accomplish the following:
- Replenish muscle glycogen
- Increase muscle synthesis
- Enhance overall recovery by reducing soreness and fatigue
- Reduce cortisol levels
After your workout, you’ll want to try and consume protein and carbohydrates as soon as possible. The typical window that is given is up to an hour after your workout, however, I suggest that you try to keep it within a window of 30 minutes if you are quicker. You’ll want to have a protein that is fast acting such as a whey protein shake as opposed to solid foods.
A whey protein shake gets digested more quickly than solid sources of protein due to the following:
- Liquid meals digest faster than solid food meals
- Whey protein is the fastest acting protein that gets digested by the body
- By properly supplementing yourself with a healthy pre and post-workout meal, you’ll be able to attain your goal of building muscle mass or losing body fat and staying lean.