While it is true that regular exercise is extremely important, any bodybuilder or athlete will tell you that eating properly is what counts for most if you want your workout to bear fruit. If you have been training hard for weeks but cannot quite see the results, we are here to help you with expert advice on what to eat and drink before, after and during the workout.
Basics of Exercise
During aerobic exercise such as swimming, running and cycling, your body initially uses carbohydrates as fuel. Later, as the exercise continues, your body begins to burn fat.
During anaerobic exercise, or a short-term workout, high intensity activities such as crunches, push-ups and weight lifting, carbohydrates in the form of glycogen (sugar) are the primary source of fuel for the muscles.
Such repetitions of strenuous activities can burn up most of the carbohydrates stored in the muscles.
Pre-workout meal is the second most important meal of the day, right after your post-workout meal.
Its main duty is to prepare the body for strain it will endure due to the merciless crackling of iron weights and gym machines.
Whether your exercise is aerobic or anaerobic, the best sources of energy are foods rich in complex carbohydrates, such as whole-wheat pasta, rice and bread, and fruits and vegetables.
Eat Small Meals an Hour Before the Workout
About 30 to 60 minutes before the workout, eat small, easily digestible meals containing complex carbohydrates. You will be able to exercise longer and under greater strain, and you will not experience dizziness or other unpleasant symptoms.
Pre-Workout Sugar Intake
Avoid processed sugars like candy up to 60 minutes before exercising, as they can lead to low blood sugar levels during the exercise.
Most people do not drink enough water before and during the workout. Water is an essential nutrient when it comes to optimal physical performance, resistance to injury, and maintaining of normal body temperature.
Take larger amounts of water one or two hours before exercising.
Nutrition During the Workout
Water Intake During the Workout
Take 2 to 3 cups of water every 15 to 30 minutes during exercise.
Water is an essential nutrient in exercise because not only does it prevent dehydration, but it also stimulates sweating, thus helping the body flush the accumulated harmful toxins.
Additional Incentives During the Workout
During a long period of intense exercise sports drinks can also be useful.
Most sports drinks are made up of simple carbohydrates (sugars) and electrolytes.
Drinks containing up to 10% of carbohydrates enter the bloodstream quickly enough to deliver glucose to the active muscles, which can help improve endurance during workout.
However, beverages that exceed 10% of carbohydrates, such as fruit juices and soft drinks, can cause chills, nausea and diarrhea. Avoid them during the workout.
The main goal of post-workout meals is to to quickly and efficiently make up for the energy lost during exercise and to provide the muscles with supplies necessary to repair, build and strengthen the existing as well as new muscle tissue.
Right After the Workout
Immediately after the training, you can reward yourself with a small chocolate protein bar which will restore the glycogen in your muscles.
An Hour After the Workout
It is recommended that you intake proteins to repair muscle tissue damage approximately 60 minutes after the workout.
To restore glycogen levels, your meal should also contain complex carbohydrates.
Do not forget to drink more water after the workout to rehydrate your body.
To determine exactly how much water you need to drink after the workout, experts advise that you weigh yourself before and after the workout, without drinking water in the meantime. It is recommended that you drink 150% more water in proportion to the lost pounds because the excess will leave the body in urine. If you weigh 1 pound less after the exercise, you will need to drink about 3 glasses of water.
The Right Amount of Protein
Whether you are a bodybuilder or you exercise in moderation, proteins are essential for muscle regeneration and growth. Having in mind the physical activity level (PAL) that the workout requires, it is very easy to calculate how much protein your body needs.
For example, moderately active people need to consume food consisting of 20% protein, 20% fat, and 60% carbohydrates.
On the other hand, bodybuilders should consume food that consists of 30% protein, 30% fat and 40% carbohydrates.
Sometimes it can be very difficult to find motivation for regular exercise and proper nutrition during exercise. But as soon as you get used to this way of life, things will become much easier.
By following these simple guidelines, you will soon see your performance, energy levels and results significantly improve.