Pre and Post Workout Nutrition... and a little breakfast too!

Breakfast: Stick to fats and proteins to keep metabolism slow and not elicit an insulin response too early in the day which could lead to fat storage.  So, eating less carbs for breakfast will also keep us fuller longer until lunch!

 But we need glucose for our brain fuel you say?!  Glucose is SO important for our body that it has ways to synthesize glucose from amino acids or fats…No way!  Yes way! 

Pre-Workout: We want to sustain energy and hydration, increase muscle energy, and boost performance and recovery. 

Simple! Eat all 3 macronutrient categories: protein, fats and carbs.  We want to prepare the body for what it's about to do on all levels.  This should be ingested no less than 1.5 hours before workout. 

Carbohydrates (fuel source) are the thing that you want to test around with: If you're crashing during or near the end of your workout: increase consumption (especially if you know you are about to do a big WOD, or a long race)

Protein: important for muscle building (Did you know?  When you work out your muscles are actually undergoing trauma, and when they re-build and re-pair the end result is more muscle fibers, aka muscle hypertrophy.  That’s how we build muscles, and we need an abundance of protein to do this!) ***Special Note: Carbs aid in protein absorption, so if you cut your carb intake in half when mixing with protein and you'll get same energy effects.  This is great for those who are trying to become leaner.

Fats: Another source of energy and slows digestion (don't want to become hungry during a workout). 

Hungry 1 hour before your workout? Almond or coconut milk, half serving of protein powder, berries, or non-starchy veggies are a great choice!  We don’t want to take energy needed for digestion away from our bodies if we are working out on a full stomach, and we can’t utilize undigested food for energy. 

Post-Workout: 4 R’s: Recover, Rehydrate, Refuel, Rebuild

The "30-min window" – There is a great deal of controversy over specificity of having to eat with in 30 min post-workout.  My recommendation is to be sure to eat within 1 hour of working out, however our bodies do have the capability to replenish our muscle energy stores in the absence of food.  Take home message?  Try to eat 30 minutes to an hour post workout, but don’t fret if one day here or there this cannot be done.  Our bodies are smarter than you may know to keep you in tip top condition!

Nerd out with these if you dare:

Rapid carbohydrate loading after a short bout of near maximal-intensity exercise.

Post-Exercise Muscle Glycogen Repletion in the Extreme: Effect of Food Absence and Active Recovery.


Avoid: Too much fats post workout because you risk the body storing it in places you may not want it to.  Fats will also slow your metabolism, and in the 4 R’s phase you don’t want your body working harder than it just did to obtain the 4 R’s.  If you’re cooking with fats then that’s just fine, but keep it to a minimum. 

Morning Athletes! Simply take the rules applied to each meal and shift them to your schedule.  For example, your pre-workout meal may not exist because of lack of time to eat and digest before your workout.  Your post-workout should follow the same rules as above, and your lunch should follow the same rules as breakfast (take it easy on the carbs), and your pre-workout meal is your dinner.  If you absolutely need to eat before your workout, then the same rules apply as above for less than 1 hour pre-work out foods.

Endurance Athletes - Carbs and calories are your friend, especially during activity.  If doing long runs, be sure to carry carb and electrolyte chews, goos, drinks, etc.  Think things your body can quickly utilize for energy. 

Building muscle? (without losing weight or needing leaning out***): Carbs and calories are also your friend.

***Note:  There can be a great deal of conflicting evidence on this topic with new research coming out all of the time.  I greatly welcome your questions and comments!

By: CSV Lifestyles Coach Vanessa