Working hard in the gym to build muscles is of course very important for sculpting your dream physique, but without proper nutrition, you definitely will not be able to reach your goals. Your body and your muscles need fuel to provide energy so you can give your all while training and not feel sore, tired and sluggish just about 20 minutes into your workout. So here are some basic rules and tips for what kind of foods you should be eating before and after your strength training workouts.
First of all: timing. There are basically two options for pre-workout nutrition. First is to eat a complete meal, which you should do about 1-2 hours prior to your workout. If your meal is too close to your training session, your body won’t have enough time to digest, and you not only have a chance to end up with an upset stomach, but the food won’t yet be broken down to energy you can actually use. The second option is to eat a ~200kcal snack about 30-60 minutes before your workout. It will leave your body enough time to digest, but you won’t get hungry again before you start, and since the snack is much smaller, it won’t upset your stomach either.
Secondly: macronutrients. The biggest difference is between the foods you should eat before and after a strength training or a cardio session is the ratio of macronutrients. First and foremost, the most important is to consume carbohydrates. It is your body’s primary source of energy – both your muscles and brain highly rely on glucose, which is the simplest form of broken down carbs. Before your workout however, you should opt for good, complex carbs that are broken down to glucose at a slower rate, so you will have a consistent supply of energy throughout your workout.
Moreover, you need to make sure you also consume protein before your weightlifting session. If you want to have a proper meal, you should go for protein sources with a lower fat content, such as egg whites, chicken breast or lean chicken or turkey ham. However, if you choose to have a snack closer to your workout, it might be a better idea to choose a kind of protein that is absorbed faster: BCAAs (Branch-chain amino acids) or whey protein – you can drink them as a shake or even mix it into your yoghurt or oats.
Last but not least, here are some ideas for pre-workout meals and snacks for a successful strength training workout:
- Cook your oatmeal as you like, then mix in half a scoop of protein powder of your choice and add some lower GI fresh fruits, such as blueberries.
- Prepare 2-3 slices of whole grain toast and spread nut butter on top: it can be all natural peanut butter, almond or cashew butter, whichever you prefer. Then slice us a banana and place the banana coins on top of the toast and sprinkle some cinnamon on top.
- Get a small cup of plain yoghurt (can be regular, or soy yoghurt to keep it vegan) and eat it along with a PROBAR Bite organic snack bar – which is a super delicious gluten free bar that provides you 6 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber!
We hope this tips will help you get the most out of your strength trainings – look out for a post about what to eat after coming soon!