Are you Properly Fueling for Gains?
This guest blog post is written by OnPoint Nutrition, a team of Registered Dietitians and Nutritionist who specialize in one-on-one virtual nutrition counseling.
Are you properly fueling for gains?
What you eat before a workout is important, as is what you eat after. If you're pushing your body to the limits, make sure you're giving it what it needs.
Recent research suggests that meal and snack timing is as important as the quality of the foods you are regularly consuming; and even more important when physical activity is added to your daily routine.
During activity, the body relies on glycogen (sugar the body has stored in our muscles) from the foods that we eat and glucose in our blood stream to supply energy to our muscles. Our muscles also require larger amounts of oxygen during activity.
Oxygen is supplied via our blood stream, powered by an increased heart rate. Because the body is pumping more blood to active muscles to sustain higher activity levels, it diverts some blood flow from the systems and functions that take place in the background (autonomic), such as digestion.
BEFORE YOUR WORKOUT
The primary purpose of the pre-workout meal or snack is to reduce muscle glycogen depletion and reduce muscle protein breakdown.
Not eating enough before a workout can leave you feeling dizzy, lightheaded, lethargic or nauseous. Not only that but without proper pre-workout fuel, you're more likely to injure yourself.
The body needs glucose and protein to support muscular contraction. If you work out in the morning, eating a small snack before activity is best. If you prefer to workout mid-day or in the evening, it may be best to consume an entire meal before you work out.
Eating 1-2 hours before activity allows adequate time for digestion and fuels the body for upcoming exertion. Because the body pumps more blood to the muscles during activity, digestion is not a prioritized internal function. Movement, absorption and secretion of foods in the stomach and intestines can all be interrupted.
Common glucose-containing foods are grains, starchy vegetables, beans and legumes, and fruit. Pairing this glucose-containing item with a protein option gives the body the perfect combination of energy sources.
AFTER YOUR WORKOUT
Post workout, you've got to replace the calories that you used up while exercising! Eat your snack 20-30 minutes after finishing, followed by a balanced meal no more than three hours later. Consuming carbohydrates (glucose containing foods) after a workout restores your muscles' energy stores, while protein assists in recovery and muscle repair.
When you avoid eating after exercise, you could end up feeling fatigued and your blood sugar may be low. If you choose to not refuel after, it will only hold you back from reaching your fitness goals.
Quick post workout snacks include chocolate milk, protein shakes or bars containing 10-15g of protein and no more than 20g carbohydrates, fruit and Greek yogurt, or an apple with peanut butter. Your later meal should feature protein and carbohydrates as well.
Examples of a good, post-workout meal are chicken breast with brown rice and greens, or tilapia with a sweet potato and broccoli. Meatless post workout meals may include a large salad with nuts, seeds and quinoa.
Remember to fuel before and after and you'll be kicking your next workouts butt.
OnPoint’s Fav Post-Workout Shake
1-2 scoops chocolate protein powder (plant-based or whey)
1 frozen banana
½ cup ice cubes
2 tbsp peanut butter
½ cup almond or oat milk
1 tsp cocoa powder
Pinch of cinnamon
Add all ingredients to high speed blender and blend to desired consistency adding less/more milk as necessary.