What should you eat before a workout? What about during and after? What if you work out really early in the morning or really late in the evening? Are there supplements you should take around your workouts? These questions are tough to answer with so much misinformation floating around the Internet. Luckily, this blog should answer most of your questions. If not, shoot me an email for more information!
Before we begin, let me make it clear that nutrient timing around your workout is not a replacement for proper nutrition throughout the day. Much like dietary supplements are intended to SUPPLEMENT a diet, nutrient timing around a workout is intended to SUPPLEMENT proper nutrition throughout the day. Don’t expect to eat poorly (or not eat) and take a magical potion that will allow you to perform an intense workout that day.
Nutrient timing will vary slightly depending on your goal – fat loss or muscle growth. In this blog we will focus on nutrient timing for fat loss.
Being in a calorie deficit can significantly reduce energy levels and thus reduce exercise intensity. When exercise intensity is reduced, caloric expenditure also is reduced. For this reason, drinking a carbohydrate/whey protein based beverage is beneficial throughout a workout (before, during, and after) — even when your goal is FAT LOSS. The carbohydrate provides immediate energy and protects against a drop in blood sugar. The protein assists in muscle tissue retention by reducing protein breakdown. Since the main metabolic driver in our bodies are muscles, maintaining as much muscle mass as possible is important for long term weight management.
Specific amounts of carbohydrate and protein will depend on multiple factors:
Time of day:
Morning workouts or workouts following a fast of greater than 6 hours may require more carbohydrate and protein.
Ratio of carbohydrate, fat and protein in your diet:
Individuals seeking to increase lean protein intake and reduce fat intake may benefit from higher doses of nutrient solution, which we provide at AFS.
For a 1200 calorie per day female in a calorie deficit:
(1) With adequate protein intake, take 1 scoop of nutrient solution at the most appropriate time around your workout.
(2) Without adequate protein intake, 2 scoops of nutrient solution at the most appropriate time around your workout.
For a 2200 calorie per day male in a calorie deficit:
(1) With adequate protein intake, take 2 scoops of nutrient solution at the most appropriate time around your workout.
(2) Without adequate protein intake, take 3 scoops of nutrient solution at the most appropriate time around your workout.
Note: Make sure to talk to your practitioner for optimal timing and dosing for your needs!
Consuming food at constant intervals and eating a variety of nutrients are important for multiple reasons:
1.) For most people it is easier to control intake with multiple small meals than with one or two large meals. Taking in multiple, well rounded meals helps prevent a drop in blood sugar during exercise. If you exercise in a fasted state, you will be more prone to low blood sugar. For example, individuals who intermittently fast see reductions in exercise intensity and have increased rates of hypoglycemia. For more information on this read my blog on fasting and exercise! This also helps to develop good eating habits that you can incorporate into a healthier lifestyle.
2.) Recovery from exercise is enhanced with 4-5 moderate protein based meals compared to 1-2 large meals per day. There is a point of diminishing return with protein intake at a given meal. Once you hit about 40 grams, the beneficial effect on lean mass does not increase. For example, eating 4 meals of 30 grams results in greater muscle growth and repair than 2 meals of 60 grams.
3.) Protein bars, meal replacement beverages, or meals high in fat and/or fiber are suboptimal around a workout. Fat and fiber can significantly delay the absorption time of protein and carbohydrate. This may result in stomach discomfort and/or nausea.
4.) Any supplement promising significant fat loss is a scam. NO supplement has been shown to significantly increase fat loss.
Make sure you check out my blog later this month on optimal nutrient timing for muscle growth!