If you´ve been on the fitness industry for some time you´ve may have heard about pre and post workout meals, or if you´ve trying to lose weight you may have heard about it too, you may have read about the best foods to eat before your exercise routine and the best foods to eat after exercise, but are the really beneficial?
Unfortunately, this is not a black and white answer it all comes down to your goals and context. Planning your meals around your workouts is a great strategy to help you achieve your goals. Post workout meals is the one I consider more important regardless of your goal, when you exercise you give your body and muscles the stimuli to grow, to get stronger, to change and the moment you finish your workout your body starts to recover so by giving the right nutrients is key to make sure your body has everything it needs to start the recovery process.
When we talk about pre and post workout it can get a little complicated especially if your goal is just to lose weight and improve body composition, if this is your goal then keeping things simple is the way to go. For this doing cardio in a fasted state can be really beneficial but not everyone feels good exercising fasted. You can have an electrolyte drink before exercising just make sure the one you choose is low in carbs and sugars and also don´t contain unhealthy ingredients. If you prefer to eat something just make sure that whatever you eat makes you feel good, you don´t want to feel sick during your workout you want to feel energized and able to perform at peak.
For pre workouts it all depends of your goal and what works best for you, for weight loss what you really want is to lose fat, in this case for some people doing cardio first thing in the morning in a fasted state is really helpful, for some people doing resistance training in a fasted state also works great while others don´t find it beneficial and it impact negatively their performance especially for bodybuilders and power lifters. If you´re doing resistance training and your main focus is strength then a pre workout meal will be beneficial.
What is the best meal for pre and post workout also depends of you, of your goals and the type of diet you´re following, if you are keto getting some MCTs some carbs or caffeine pre workout might be beneficial or having a more complete meal a couple hours before exercising, depending on how hard is you session you may want to have some carbs to help your body fuel the workout. For post workout having a protein shake with some MCTs or coconut oil is better then to getting just a protein shake, whey, casein, egg protein are all great options and there are so many protein powders that contain them, adding some healthy oils work better for a post workout shake.
If you´re having a complete meal before your workout make sure it´s at least one hour before exercising and make sure you don´t get too full or what you eat won´t cause digestive issues, when you´re exercising you want to make sure you can perform at your max and your pre workout meal (if you have it) is supposed to fuel that workout not make you feel sick.
If you go to a gym you may have seen or heard a lot of people taking caffeine as a pre workout. For pre workouts we want something that gives us energy, increase performance is really important, even if you can take something pre workout that helps you increase performance for 5% that can make a huge difference on your workout when you´re lifting heavy and you want to go hard this is what caffeine does. Some people don´t like caffeine because of the crash , if this is your case, supplements like Ginseng and L-citrulline are also really helpful.
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