You are ready to pick up weights. Soon, you will experience the release of endorphins. You might even beat your previous record with an exercise machine. But something is missing. Your energy levels are not what they should be and no amount of mental enthusiasm can make up for that. Try hard as you might; every movement feels like a challenge and you feel lethargic after a workout.
The chances are that you are not devoting your time to having healthy workout meals. There is no way you can have a good workout without fuelling your body sufficiently. But what are these meals and why is it so important?
What are the different types of workout meals?
There are two primary types of meals: pre and post-workout.
- Meals that are consumed pre-workout supply your body with the essential nutrients for optimum performance.
- Meals that are consumed post-workout are taken after a workout to assist in the body’s recovery.
Both of them are vital for muscle building and growth. However, the type of food options you choose depends on your long-term objectives. Regardless of whether you are new to working out or an advanced lifter, it would be best if you never missed any of these meals.
What are the benefits of a pre-workout meal?
As mentioned above, eating before an exercise session enhances your performance. When you work out, your body converts glycogen into glucose. The entire process is needed for muscle contraction. However, without the required nutrients, a process called muscle glycogen depletion begins. When there is a depletion of muscle glycogen, fatigue sets in quickly. This happens because the cells cannot produce enough ATP to keep up the intensity. The result is that you will not have enough energy even to complete a workout. Without the proper nutrition, your body will also enter into a catabolic state. Your body will lose both fat and muscle at the same time.
What is the Best time to take your pre-workout meal?
It would help if you waited twenty to thirty minutes between your meal and then workout. If you eat right before exercising, you might face various problems like cramping, bloating and nausea. The reason is that your body cannot digest the food properly since it will supply blood to your muscles during the workout. According to dieticians, the larger a meal, the longer you should wait. For high endurance activities like swimming, cycling, and running, eating two to three hours before a workout session is advisable.
What Items should you include?
The items you should include in your pre-workout will depend on the workout and how long before you have them. If you are having a meal two to four hours before, the ideal choices are wholemeal toast, peanut butter, sliced banana, a bowl of oatmeal, omelet and poached chicken with sweet potato. Food items that you can take 30 minutes to an hour before working out are protein smoothies, fruits, nuts, yogurt and bliss balls.
However, if you exercise after an hour of breakfast, a light snack like whole-grain toast, juice or banana will be sufficient. For an early morning workout, go with fruit and oatmeal that is whole grain and high in fiber. The body will digest these gradually, ensuring that your blood sugar remains constant. You could also have some low-fat milk. Raisins and almonds are also high in healthy unsaturated fat and protein.
What are the benefits of a post-workout meal?
Your body needs the proper nutrition after a workout. The reason is that it rebuilds the glycogen stores and repairs the muscle proteins. Skipping your post-workout meal will make you tired and light-headed from low blood sugar. You could even make yourself susceptible to injuries if you do not eat meals after heavy lifting. In the long run, you will end up with a weak immune system. It is recommended that you eat a meal high in carbohydrates, protein and some fats after a workout. You can skip the fat if you want to lose weight. The proteins will give your body the essential amino acids. Carbohydrates will help in proper glycogen resynthesis, while some fat will enhance the recovery process.
What is the best time to take your post-workout meal?
Most fitness experts suggest that you should take your post-workout meal after 30 minutes of the workout. Delaying it by an hour or two hours will dramatically lower the glycogen synthesis rate in the body. The period between your workout and meal is referred to as the “window of opportunity”. It refers to the short duration when the muscles are most receptive to nutrition, leading to muscle growth, repair, and strength.
What Items should you include in both pre and post-workout diets?
Like pre-workout, the type of items you choose depends on how long your workout is and your goals. Most experts believe that you should take 0.8 grams of carbohydrate and at least 20 grams of protein after exercise. For carbs, you could select eggs, whole wheat toast, turkey wrap or burger, sweet potato, salmon, pasta, beef bolognese, brown rice and pasta. The ideal protein choices are yogurt, cheese and chicken. Two of the best rice combinations you could choose are beef stew and brown rice and Portuguese chicken with broccoli rice.
Having the proper workout meals at the right time to ensure optimum muscle-building performance. While regularly working out is necessary, you will not get the results you want without adequate nutrition.