Weight Loss Wednesday: Pre- and Post-Workout Nutrition

In the past few weeks, I have been getting a lot of questions regarding pre- and post-workout nutrition, as far as what types of foods to eat and when they should be consumed. The idea of fueling and re-fueling for sports performance is one that even the casual weekend warrior athlete has to think about, making it a vital part of sports nutrition.  So, I’ve decided to break it down. This week, we’ll be covering the basics of pre- and post-workout nutrition. So here it is, in a nutshell:



The Basics:

     The focus on pre- and post-workout nutrition is focused on priming your muscles with the energy sources, water and accessory nutrients they need to perform the way you want them to. Pre workout, you want to make sure that your muscles have enough food to readily convert to their preferred energy source – glycogen, without giving yourself stomach cramps from eating too heavily.  Post workout, you want to flush the gunk out of your muscles (like lactic acid, ketones, etc.) and give them enough food to refuel and repair for your next workout, without giving yourself a sugar crash or getting those post-meal drowsy feels we’ve all had at once time or another (think Thanksgiving, post meal ‘sleepies’). So, let’s break it down.


Pre-workout Nutrition:


Hydration: Before you workout, try to consume about 16oz. of cool water for hydration 2 hrs. before you workout and continue to drink water as need while you workout.  Simply put, muscles need water to work.


Especially if your training will consist of endurance activities or a competitive workout where body contact in the abdomen may occur (such as boxing) you should try to eat 3-4 hours prior to your workout, to minimize the possibility of digestive distress. If you’ve ever got the runners’ runs or gotten a gut punch after a meal, you know what I’m talking about.

Food Specifics:

 In general, try to eat a small meal that you know you can easily digest. Focus on carbs for this one, and make them simple ones at that.  Adding fiber, protein and fat to your pre-workout meal slows digestion and can leave you feeling heavy and gross throughout your workout.


Post- Nutrition Recovery:


Ideally, you should drink a liter of fluid for every pound of weight you’ve lost during your workout. But don’t sweat it if you aren’t weighing in pre- and post-workout (see what I did there?). Most people should be fine consuming between 1 and 2 liters post-workout for proper replenishment. If your workout is endurance based, in a hot environment,  and/ or lasts over and hour and a half, shoot for 2-3 liters and consider adding electrolyte replacement, such as salt pills or electrolyte tablets with a low amount of added sugar, such as NUUN or Gu.    

Timing andFood Specifics:

In the past, there has been heavy emphasis on consuming carbs withn 2 hrs post-workout in order to replenish stores of energy within the muscle (in the form of glycogen). More recent research seems to suggest that consuming carbs after the 2 hr post workout window does not negatively impact glycogen replenishment, as long as sufficient carbs are consumed. What does that mean? It means that  as long as you get a good amount of carbs down your face in the next 24 hrs, you can still effectively refuel your muscles without worrying that you are somehow inhibiting your own progress andperformance.

Balance, The Sequel:

Last week, we talked a lot about the idea of balance and how it relates to sports nutrition. Not surprisingly, that same concept applies here. Although post-workout recovery usually highlight carbs alone, balancing your carbs with protein and fat post-workout has been shown to be just as effective at replenishing muscle glycogen, and has the added benefit of creating a positive protein load in your system, meaning that your muscles will have all the little building blocks they need to repair themselves post workout.



Next week, we’ll dig deeper and look at sport-specific nutrition.  If you are interested in learning more about ILP Nutrition and how it can take you to the next level, click HERE  to request more information and be sent a nutrition assessment form.