When it comes to fitness, you probably won’t be at all surprised to hear that nutrition is a pretty big deal. Not only can a bad diet totally undo all of the good that you do in the gym, it can hold you back from performing your best. What you eat not only fuels your workouts, but it also helps your body recover properly between bouts of activity so that you can improve.
So, the natural question becomes this: What should you be eating, particularly before and after your workouts? Let’s look at some basic guidelines, but keep in mind that these are intended for general fitness and will need to be tweaked for your individual needs.
In the minds of many people, the pre-workout meal is all about fuel. The truth is, though (and we’ll expand on this more later) that what you eat before your workout can help to improve the way you recover after you’ve finished. Your pre-workout meal should also take care of your hydration needs, so that your system is fully primed for the stress you’re about to put it through.
So, for general guidelines, your pre-workout meal should consist primarily of low glycemic index carbohydrates. These will make sure that you’ve got plenty of glycogen ready to fuel your activity while reducing the risk of dramatic changes to your blood sugar which can make you feel tired and sluggish. You’ll also need a moderate amount of protein to be sure that your muscles are able to quickly rebuild themselves and to reduce the amount of damage that they sustain during the workout. A small amount of fat primarily acts to slow your digestion so that you have a small insulin reaction to those carbs you enjoyed.
Now, you have some options when it comes to both size and timing of your pre-workout meal. If you prefer to use one of your normal sized meals as your pre-workout, try to eat it 2 to 3 hours before your workout. But this can be a challenge for some people to try to stick to this schedule and many find it more convenient to eat a smaller meal in the hour leading up to their workout. At this stage, it’s better to use a liquid meal – like Gnarly Feast or Vegan Feast – that meets all of your macronutritient needs and can be digested quickly. A liquid meal will also help you stay hydrated as a bonus.
The post-workout meal is all about recovery. During exercise, your body is being stressed, challenged and – frankly – damaged. In fact, it’s the response to this damage that makes your muscles stronger and your body more efficient. To make sure that you are able to recover effectively, your body needs certain raw materials. Chief among these building blocks is protein which is key in rebuilding your muscles. Your body will also need a moderate serving of carbohydrates to replenish all of the fuel that you burned up during your workout.
For years, athletes’ dietary habits were ruled by the concept of an anabolic window – the belief that if you did not eat protein within 30 minutes of exercise your muscles wouldn’t grow and would even be broken down for fuel. Recent research, though, strongly suggests that this is a myth. While it is true that you should have your recovery meal in the 30 minutes following your workout, it’s not because your muscles are going to waste away if you don’t. Instead, that recovery meal is about keeping your levels of protein and carbohydrates high – a process that you already started with your pre-workout meal.
Again, hydration is important in post-workout mode and your digestive system may be especially sensitive. Plus, you’ll probably be beat and just not up to cooking. A liquid meal, then, is a perfect solution. This time, though, the emphasis should be a lean, complete proteins like Gnarly Whey that can be absorbed quickly and give your muscles everything they need.
Take some time to explore the Gnarly product line a little more and see what products could be most useful to you.