What you eat pre and post workout can make a big difference to what you get out of your training session.
It’s one of the topics I go over most with our personal training clients at New Image, because how you fuel your body affects your performance in the session, how well you recover from your workout and the fitness and weight loss results you get out of exercising.
Many people swing to both ends of the spectrum: either overcompensating for the calories they believe they’ve burnt in their workout by adding in another full meal, or neglecting to refuel their bodies and help their muscles repair.
So what should you eat, if at all, before and after your workout?
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. There are several factors to consider when figuring out your pre- and post-workout snacks, if indeed you have them at all. And they’re the same questions I ask myself on my training days.
How long are you training for, and how intense will the session be?
When I’m pressed for time, my workout is condensed into a 15-20 minute bout (yes, you can get an effective workout in that short amount of time!) I normally train for 30 minutes so it makes sense that my fuel requirements are different for these 2 workouts.
You also need to consider the intensity of the workout. If I’m doing a 15 minute session, you’d better believe that I’m going to be working pretty hard during that short time, and I might need to replenish my glycogen stores afterwards.
What’s your number 1 fitness goal?
Are you training to lose body fat, increase muscle size or increase performance? Even if you answered yes to all these, pick your priority goal, as it will determine your choice of food and how much you have before and after your workout. For example, if you’re number one goal is to lose fat, fasted cardio (ie on an empty stomach) first thing in the morning is highly effective. But if you’re looking to increase muscle size, a protein based snack following your workout will optimise your results.
What time of day are you training?
WE have clients who train at 5:30am, 12pm and 8:30pm. The advice I give to each will vary. Use some common sense and keep in mind our golden snacking rule: If you’re within 2 hours of your next full meal, consider holding off.
Muscles need glycogen to perform optimally
I know many of you are following a slow carb food plan. I certainly have periods of the day, mostly breakfast, where I have minimal carbohydrates or fast altogether. However, if you want to train well and hard, and really receive the benefits from completing a customised program, your muscles need fuel, or glycogen.
This doesn’t mean load up on pasta like an NRL player! If you are planning an intense session, not just a walk or casual bike ride with the kids, it’s a good idea to have some low GI carbs within two hours of beginning your training.
Your go-to guide to pre and post workout snacks.
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Some pre and post workout snack ideas
We recommend protein shakes made with Nuzest Clean Lean Protein powder, which you can pick up in the New Image studio. It ticks all the boxes for us and contains none of the nasty additives found in most other protein supplements.