Pre- and post-workout snacks
Often I am asked what pre- and post-workout snacks are best for muscle growth and weight loss. Coaching men and women on a consistent base requires up to date sports nutrition education so I can pass that knowledge on to health coaching clients. Here are a few important lessons to learn when mentally and physically preparing for this week’s workouts.
Length and Type of Workout
The most commonly used variables to exercise are volume-based. For example,
Time under tension
Although these are not the only measurements for a successful workout, they will help you to build muscle and burn stored body fat. The type of workout you are performing, and the intensity of that workout, plays a role in your nutrition to both prepare and recover from the workout.
How Your Body is Energized in a Workout
To put it very simply, your body uses energy from food first. Next, your body uses energy from the glycogen (glucose molecules stuck together) stored in your muscles. Finally, your body uses stored fat for energy. It’s the path of greatest resistance for your body so it’s the hardest work for your body.
Eat Carbs Before a Workout
The American Council of Exercise writes,
“Prior to a workout, focus on consuming carbohydrates to top off your muscle energy stores (glycogen), combined with smaller amounts of protein to help protect muscle and reduce post-exercise muscle soreness (SCAN, 2009).”
The longer you plan to exercise, the more energy your body will need. For continuous energy through your workout, plan for carbohydrates that come from whole plants rather than carbs that have ingredients like enriched flour or synthetic additives added to enhance flavor or color.
Eat Carbs and Protein After a Workout
Your post-workout snack looks similar to your prior snack but you will add more protein. The amino acids in protein help to repair your muscle fibers, maintain them and also aid in recovery. This snack will still contain carbohydrates but has a heavier focus on protein and fat.
Pre-Workout Snack Suggestion
If you are trying to lose weight, be cautious not to over-consume carbs. A smart snack would be, half of an organic banana for carbohydrates plus a teaspoon of natural almond butter for protein and healthy fats. Eat this snack 2-3 hours before your workout for proper digestion.
Post-Workout Snack Suggestion
Heavy up on protein and make your choices clean. Animal protein is often considered first by most people, but don’t forget about plant-based protein as well. Next time you are shopping pick up a frozen bag of organic soybeans and mix 1 cup with a 1/2 cup of quinoa and sea salt for a protein-packed, post-workout snack. Both foods can be food prepped and stored in the fridge for up to four days.
Trying to Cut Fat?
If you are trying to cut fat and reduce your body’s fat composition, you need to turn your body into a fat-burning machine. Do that by reducing your carbohydrate intake so your body is forced to use the stored fat for energy or fuel. Choose leafy greens and other whole foods as your carbohydrate source and avoid the bread, pasta, and crackers when planning your fuel. High protein and fat will help you to stay mentally focused while your body adjusts to a new way to burn fat. Read about my experience with ketosis here.
Boost Your Fitness Performance
If you are looking for better performance in your workouts, fuel up with clean nutrition! If you catch yourself stuck without a snack fairly often, make a weekly workout plan. Once you build your meal planning habit, your fitness performance will increase.
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