Fueling your body before a workout is just as important as fueling it after, after all you wouldn’t start building a house and not finish it. The greatest difference in fueling your body before versus after a workout is the type of macronutrient (carbohydrate, fat, protein) you should consume. The most important macronutrient an individual can consume before a workout is carbohydrate. Carbohydrates are the primary source of energy that your body will utilize during your workout. It’s like putting gas in a car, if the car doesn’t have gas it’s not going anywhere. The best choices for carbohydrates before a workout may include: sweet potatoes, whole wheat bread, fruit or whole-wheat tortillas. Of course there are also other “unhealthy” types of carbohydrate foods that you can consume, but remember that you are what you eat and you do not want to be a donut.
Let’s talk about recovery. Protein, protein, protein! Protein is the key macronutrient that you need after a workout (WOD consisting of strength training). Having protein within that first hour after completing your workout will help maximize your muscle protein synthesis (building muscle). I’m not saying that if you wait longer than an hour it won’t help you recover, it will simply not be optimal, but still beneficial. According to one of the most referenced research studies on protein ingestion and protein synthesis conducted by Moore DR, et al. they recommend individuals to consume about 20g of high-quality protein. 20 grams of high-quality protein include: roughly 2 cups of milk, 3 oz of lean beef, 2.5 oz of lean chicken or turkey, ¾ cup of cottage cheese, or 20g of an isolate protein powder.
Next time you train don’t forget your carbohydrates before your workout and your protein after.
By: Juana Acosta, MS, RD