• Julie Luther

Workout Nutrition to Fuel a Lean, Strong Body

We literally are what we eat. If you want to have a lean strong body you must workout. If you want to fuel your workout with what your body REALLY needs then you need to be aware of the latest research on what to eat pre, during and post workout. Here are some general guidelines based on the latest research.

Pre-exercise nutrition needs.

What and when you eat before exercise can make a big difference to your performance and recovery. You not only want to fuel your workout but you need to have enough of the right types of food in your body to preserve muscle mass and speed recovery.

Strategy #1 - Protein before exercise.

Eating some lean protein, (dairy, meat, fish, chicken, protein powder) in the few hours before exercise:

  • Can help you maintain or even increase your muscle size. That’s important for anyone who wants to improve health, body composition, or performance.

  • Can reduce markers of muscle damage (myoglobin, creatine kinase, and myofibrillar protein degradation). Or at least prevent them from getting worse. (Carbohydrates or a placebo eaten before exercise don’t seem to do the same thing.) The less damage to your muscles, the faster you recover, and the better you adapt to your exercise over the long term.

  • Floods your bloodstream with amino acids just when your body needs them most. This boosts your muscle-building capabilities. So not only are you preventing damage, you’re increasing muscle size.

Strategy #2 – Carbs (fruits, veggies and healthy starches) before exercise.

Eating carbs before exercise:

  • Fuels your training and helps with recovery. It’s a popular misconception that you only need carbs if you’re engaging in a long (more than two hour) bout of endurance exercise. In reality, carbs can also enhance shorter term (one hour) high-intensity training. So unless you’re just going for a quiet stroll, ensuring that you have some carbs in your system will improve high intensity performance.

  • Preserves muscle and liver glycogen. This tells your brain that you are well fed, and helps increase muscle retention and growth.

  • Stimulates the release of insulin. When combined with protein, this improves protein synthesis and prevents protein breakdown. Another reason why a mixed meal is a great idea. No sugary carb drinks required.

Strategy #3 – Healthy Fats (olive oil, fish oil, avocado, nuts) before exercise:

  • Don’t appear to improve nor diminish sport performance. And they don’t seem to fuel performance — that’s what carbs are for.

  • Do help to slow digestion, which maintains blood glucose and insulin levels and keeps you on an even keel.

  • Provide some vitamins and minerals, and they’re important in everyone’s diet.

Pre-exercise nutrition in practice

If you work out late enough just eat a well-balanced meal 2-3 hours before exercise. If, however you are working out upon waking try these options that digest quickly:

  • A protein shake made with protein powder with some veggies and fruit and juts thrown and a low calorie milk or almond milk

  • Greek yogurt with fruit and nuts

During Exercise Nutrition Needs:

If you are only working out 30 – 120 minutes there is no need to fuel with anything but water and maybe an electrolyte drink, however if you are training for longer you will need to eat some protein and carbs during the workout to enhance performance. During-exercise nutrition needs.

For training that is longer than two hours, sports drinks can be a huge help. Every hour you’ll want to consume:

  • 15 grams protein

  • 30-45 grams carbs

This can come in the form of liquids, gels, or even some solid food.

Post-exercise Nutrition Needs.

Post-workout nutrition can help you recover, rehydrate, refuel, build muscle, and improve future performance.

Strategy #1 - Protein after exercise:

Eating protein after exercise prevents protein breakdown and stimulates synthesis, leading to increased or maintained muscle tissue. So it’s a great strategy for better recovery, adaptation, and performance.

  • Want fast and convenient? Make an awesome post-workout protein shake.

  • Want real food? Then make an awesome high-protein meal. Any high quality complete protein should do the job, as long as you eat enough. That means about 40-60 grams for men, and 20-30 grams for women.

Strategy #2 - Carbs after exercise:

Eating healthy carbs, (fruits, veggies and fiber rich starches) will restore our energy after a workout so while eating your protein throw some fruits and veggies into that shake OR add ½ cup brown rice and a veggie to that post workout meal.

Strategy #3 – Fats after Exercise:

Emerging research suggests that healthy fats eaten post exercise can actually increase the amount of available protein that we are eating. So use 2% milk in that protein shake and reduce the amount of milk OR drizzle some olive oil or add ¼ of an avocado to your meal.

Eating properly will keep you energized and create a lean fit body in no time!






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