When it comes to working out and losing weight, people often stop eating. They tend to rely only on their pre-workout drinks to get energy during the workout. However, the truth is having the right food before, during, and after the workout can enhance your performance far better. In the nutrition world, these meals are known as pre-workout, intra-workout, and post-workout meals. All have their benefits and need to be consumed at the right time. Here’s what you need to eat and avoid, and at what times.
Timing Is Key
The pre-workout meal is supposed to be eaten one to two hours before your workout to ensure that your body has enough glycogen. The quantity of pre-workout meals depends on the duration of the workout; for example, if the workout is 45 minutes long, eating 60% of your hunger is ideal. However, if the workout is two hours long, eating 90% of your hunger is recommended.
The intra-workout meal can be consumed in two ways: 15 minutes before the workout or during the workout. But when it comes to post-workout meals, there is no set time; a person can consume it immediately once the workout is done or after 20 to 30 minutes.
Irrespective of what your goal is – weight loss or muscle gain – pre-workout meals play an important role in providing the fuel that is required during a workout. The key ingredient in your pre-workout meal should be carbohydrates (Carbs). Why carbs? Because carbs are a great source of energy and provide the glucose needed during exercise.
Carbs should be consumed in proportion to an individual's body weight, so consuming 1.2 grams of carbs for every kilogram of your body weight is ideal. Other food items that you can consume are: bananas, oats, rice, bread, and chapati. Mainly, quick digesting carbs that can provide you with instant energy. Avoid chocolates and refined sugar as that may cause your stomach to bloat.
The main emphasis should be on fast-digesting carbohydrates and electrolytes. Sports drinks, gels, energy bars, bananas, and jam sandwiches are all excellent carb sources that can provide a boost of energy during long workouts. Electrolytes should be consumed at regular intervals to avoid dehydration and loss of energy. Avoid foods that take longer to digest like, peanut butter, milkshakes, or heavy sandwiches.
Once the workout is done it's time to recover and get ready for the day’s other activities. The focus of post-workout meals should be on consuming both protein and carbs. Protein will help with muscle recovery and repair, while carbs will replenish the body's glycogen stores that were depleted during the workout. The best food to consume for post-workout meals are whey protein, chicken rice, egg omelette, fish salad, and dairy products. Avoid having a cheat meal right after your workout as that may slow down recovery.
Meals should be properly planned a day before the workout so that no time is wasted. To avoid digestive issues, a person should binge on food that is familiar to their gut. An empty stomach workout is a no-no because it can deplete your body, resulting in weakness, cramps, and inefficient workouts.
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