What do I eat before & after workouts?!
Coach Josh here! I wanted to answer some questions regarding food, and what to eat before and after your workout. It’s a big topic and people have different a lot of varying opinions about this. I’m going to share my ideas with you on how to approach food for training.
First, we’re talking about eating before and after a workout. It really depends on what your goals are.
If we’re talking about eating for fat loss or trying to stay lean, there’s a couple of things I might suggest.
If you’re just starting out with training:
- No food before
- Eat a normal meal within an hour after your workout. You’re going to be more insulin sensitive after your workout, so you wanna get that food in pretty quick to maximize the benefits of your training.
If you’ve been training for a while (like 3-9 months), I might go:
- No food before
- BCAAs (branch chain amino acids) during your workout
- Eat your normal meal afterward, within an hour
Josh! What are BCAAs?
BCAAs are a supplement that helps you preserve lean muscle, sort of a protein precursor. It’s going to keep you from losing any of those gains when you are training. You eat your normal meal afterward. It’s a super cheap supplement you can get at any vitamin shop.
Let's say you're at about a year of training.
Now you’re really getting seasoned with working hard and feeling confident in training. If you’re trying to stay lean.
No food before
- Eat protein and carbs afterward (remember, keep muscle building process happening due to insulin sensitivity). You’re going to eat a meal like chicken and rice. That’s a classic protein carb meal. But really you should eat anything that makes you feel good in the protein and carb category.
The next category is eating for GAINS/performance.
This is my favorite. This is where I’m at... and I love talking about it, and I love people who get after it! If you’re trying to get the maximum amount of muscle building and performance out of your workout, what you want to do is carbs prior. By this I mean: eating some nice breakfast oatmeal cookies or brown/white rice, or something that makes you feel good. A simple carb that will load up your muscles and glycogen, so you can really get on top of it and feel strong in your workout.
So, eating carbs before… BCAAs during your workout and then protein and carbs immediately afterward.
- Loading your muscles up with energy
- keeping everything going while you’re training
- Eat your protein and carbs for afterward!
That’s your baseline formula for success.
Here's a question from Michelle:
Re: Is there a time frame for NOT eating prior to working out?
A reminder: if your goal is to stay lean, you don’t eat before your training. If you’re working out in the afternoon, just eat your lunch and do your normal routine! 30 min-1hr before your workout. If you’re eating more than an hour ahead of time, you’re probably not going to feel full during your training. More than an hour, i
To step up your gains even more:
- Carbs prior
- Healthy simple carbs plus BCAAs during workout. Take something like dextrose, 10g of sugar and putting it in your drink so you're hydrating with BCAAs and carbs. That way, you stay fueled during training. Especially if I’m training for a long time 45min-1hr, 1 hr 30 min.
- Protein and carbs afterwards
- Carbs before
- BCAAs and carbs during workout
- I like to slide in a post workout smoothie right after my workout is finished. I like a more carb heavy smoothie with protein- think lot of fruit, sometimes ice cream, LOTS OF CALORIES. I drink that shake within 30 min.
- THEN I have a normal meal afterward. The shake is like a sneaking in an extra meal. That's the ultimate in eating for gains.
There are 2 philosophies, that depend on which direction you want to go. Staying lean or building as much muscle as you can. Yeah, GAINZ!
Again, eat what makes you feel good.
I'm the kind of person who can eat a burrito and do squats. If you are slightly more sensitive- go by your gut. You don’t want to get nauseated, you don’t want anything impacting your training negatively so just make sure you are listening to your body. If you need to train with energy, ignore the fat loss/lean out suggestions.
You have to feel good during your workout. If you need to eat more, then do it!
Maximize the other things you are doing in your diet to get you to your goals.
That’s a lot of info, but I hope I cleared some things up. If you have any more questions, go ahead and post them. I’ll throw up some recipes too!
This is Coach Josh live from TFW Portland, helping YOU bring out the warrior within.