Behavior ChangeHealthy SnacksNutritionUncategorized

Pre and Post Workout Nutrition

By June 26, 2009 37 Comments

I get many questions about pre and post workout nutrition.  Do I eat before I work out or should I workout on an empty stomach?  There are good arguments both ways, but I recommend eating at least a little something.  If you are working out with no food in your stomach (most times in the morning) your body is already at a low glucose state.  The increase exercise will soon cause you to break down muscle in order to provide the body with enough energy to make it through the workout.  It is generally ok to eat a regular meal 2.5 hours before a workout, but anything sooner and you might be asking for it to come back up!  I recommend eating a little something within 30 minutes of starting to exercise.  This will do a couple things: it will provide the body with some energy to get more out of the workout, it will prevent your body from eating its muscle, and it primes the body to recover and heal faster after the workout.

For after a workout your body gives you a 45 minute window where the muscle fibers are very receptive to protein, in fact, it is 400% more receptive to protein.  So it is important to get enough quick absorbing protein into the muscle cells as possible to aid in muscle recovery.  In order to more quickly and efficiently get this protein into the muscle, you need simple sugars to shuttle that in.  Think of the sugar as a high speed train, carrying the protein into the muscle.  Without the sugar it would be like a biker trying to bike the protein into the muscle, much slower and less efficient.  So the sugar you consume after a workout (assuming it isn’t too much) will be used to replenish glycogen stores in the liver and muscle, which means you don’t have to worry about it getting stored as fat.

In both the pre and the post workout meal, it is important to not eat fat, because fat slows the absorption rate down, making it more difficult for the protein to get shuttled into the muscle… think of the fat as rush hour traffic for the biker or train.

Well there you have it, the geeky and scientific part of pre and post workout meals.

Now here is my moms post and her suggestions!

Today’s topic is another good one that was requested. I have learned that I have been doing it wrong; typically, I’ll take a protein shake along to the “Y” and drink maybe a fourth of it before working out and save the rest for afterwards. This part is fine, Dustin says. However, I put all but the kitchen sink in this drink, including ground flaxseed-a big no-no! I have learned that this drink is ONLY simple carbs and protein, NO fats! And it should be in a ratio of about 2:1 or 3:1, carbs:protein, with 50-100 cals before and 2-300 cals after the workout, depending on your size.

I’ll let Dustin discuss all the technical aspects of the subject and get right down to making some suggestions of combinations using the above ratios. Dustin says fruit works well, so matching that up with a variety of proteins can give you a lot of variety. I have to admit here that simple vs. complex carbs has me a bit confused when we are calling fruit a simple carb; I always thought of all the white flour and sugar, all sweeteners, etc. as simple. So I just now googled and here is their list for simple carbs:

fruits, fruit juice, milk, yogurt, honey, molasses, and sugar. Their list of complex carbs are: vegetables, bread, cereal, legumes, and pasta. I think I have heard Dustin say there are a lot of theories out there regarding what you should and shouldn’t have before and after working out and I have just seen that-all the way to post workout drinks including coconut oil!

Let’s start with the basic protein drink; my little magic bullet container makes about 2 cups, so I use half a cup of frozen or fresh berries (40 cals.), ½ of an 8″ banana (50 cals.), a scoop of protein pwd (110 cals.), and either 1 c. of skim milk ( 90 cals.), ½ c. nonfat yogurt (60 cals.), or water for your liquid. Ice may also be used for a thicker consistency. I use stevia for sweetening, but according to the list, some honey or molasses (60 cals./Tbls. for both) would work too. If you are using this shake for both before and after your workout, simply use maybe a third of it before and the rest for after. Adding this all up, you could get to as high as 350 cals. Frozen mango and peaches work well too, with a little higher caloric value than the berries.

If you prefer to eat some foods, an apple and ½ oz. lofat string cheese would be pretty good, providing around 110 cals for pre, and doubling this for a post snack.

Two Tbls.of nonfat cottage cheese and half a peach or nectarine would provide around 70 cals. A small orange and an oz. of lite feta cheese gives you around 100 cals. Some times a little juice would be acceptable instead of the fruit, but not to be a habit. A cup of melon at 50-60 cals could also be used for your fruit.

I think the protein is supposed to be fast absorbing and is why your protein drinks are so perfect; I am curious about tofu fitting this criteria, and also cooked egg whites for the protein source. I assume fish, chicken, and beef are slow absorbing. I have recently read about the bad rap soy has been given and that it should still be used in the same moderation as any other food…..would any of you have some info on this subject to share with us?

With milk and yogurt being considered a simple carb source, and it also being a protein source, would that make either one an acceptable single food for the pre and post snack??

Well, as you can tell, I am swimming upstream here and have lots of questions myself!

I’m looking forward to a lot of experts jumping in here with lots of good input!!

Keep eating, and drinking~healthy!

Dustin’s Mom~Joy