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What should I eat before and after a workout?

Whether you are starting a new workout program or are a seasoned athlete, nutrition is the very most important step to fuel your body, and the one thing we can have complete control over.  In our house, we talk about nutrition being a lot like politics and religion.  Everyone has an opinion, a belief system, and information is EVERYWHERE.  Weeding through the noise is the hardest part. 

As a performance-based nutritionist, I examine the science behind everything.  Protein builds muscle, carbohydrates are your primary energy source, and fat is good for your brain, skin, hair, and nails.  The science behind what to eat and how much needs to be specifically individualized to you. 

Each meal of the day should have YOUR appropriate ratios of protein, carbohydrate, and fat.  These ratios can be determined by a nutritional professional who looks at your current lean body mass, basal metabolic rate, and your current body fat percentage.  We love to geek out on this and get very specific!

When it comes to fueling for your workout and eating for recovery after your workout, I tell my athletes the following… 2 hours up to 45 minutes before your workout you can consume your normal levels of both protein and carbohydrate.  Stay away from fat as it is slow to digest and can sit in your stomach making your workout uncomfortable.  30 minutes before your workout you are safe to eat and encouraged to eat a simple carbohydrate like an apple or a banana.  Depending on the length of your workout, a carbohydrate rich drink can be consumed to maintain your energy levels for the duration of the workout.  Personally, I stay away from most sports drinks and choose to utilize a few ounces of fruit juice such as cranberry in my water. 

Workouts are a natural way to prime the metabolic pump in your body.  Once you have depleted your nutritional stores we have to refuel.  I am a firm believer of eating a full meal within 90 minutes after your workout.  If the thought of eating right away is unappealing, utilize a protein shake made with a powdered protein and a carbohydrate laden drink such as coconut water. 

The lion share of your daily carbohydrate intake should be consumed within 90 minutes on either side of your workout.  Eating carbs before your workout gives you energy, and carbs after your workout restores your glycogen storage in your tissues for later use.   

Protein should be consumed within 90 minutes of your workout to aid repair and recovery of tissues.  Protein increases our muscle synthesis, which improves our lean body mass.  Our lean body mass is directly related to our basal metabolic rate, and the faster our basal metabolic rate, the more calories we burn during a workout.  Now we are winning!

Fat can be consumed within 90 minutes of your workout but keep it light.  Centering your fat consumption away from your workout will allow for improved protein synthesis and carbohydrate loading after your workout. 

Nutrition can be complicated.  We make it easy by customizing your plan specifically to you, teaching exactly what to eat and when to accomplish your goals, and creating solutions for hurdles before we get to them. 


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