Whether your ultimate goal on your fitness journey is weight loss, gain muscle, or even maintain, the rate at which you achieve your goal is ultimately based on your nutrition. Not taking in the proper nutrients at the right time, in the correct amounts, or the wrong nutrients can slow and even reverse any ground you gain on your journey. Here at Xperience Fitness, we don’t just develop workouts, we design programs and the key pillar of those programs is nutrition. We take the time to go over daily nutrition to ensure everything our clients eat are with a purpose.
It’s not simply what you eat that matters, but also when. Which nutrients you take in at what time of day not only affects your energy levels during the day, but also your workout. So, here is how your nutritional habits affect you before, during, and after your workouts.
How To Eat Before Your Workout
Eating immediately before exercise, such as 15-30 minutes before is not advisable. At this time your blood sugar levels are usually higher already, and you shouldn’t add to it. Also, after about 20 minutes, your body gets heavily in the process of digesting your food, which can create gastrointestinal distress as you put your body through vigorous activity.
What you eat beforehand is meant to fuel your workout. If you plan a short workout, eating before isn’t necessary unless you can get hypoglycemic. If you plan a long 2-3+ hour workout, eat about 1-½ hours before.
How To Eat During Your Workout
To lead into that, here are the 2 approaches as to how eating affects your actual workout.
Not Eating – This option is fine when doing light or short-period exercise. Exercising on an empty stomach forces your body to use body-fat as a fuel source. However, studies have shown that this approach does not lead to long-term weight loss. There is no conclusive evidence that exercising on an empty tank results in a long-term fat loss. If you focus on Steady-State Cardio, not eating can be effective here.
Eating 1-2 hours before – This causes your body to rely on carbohydrates for fuel. This is where you want to focus on complex carbohydrates since their chemical breakdown of them happens over a longer period of time allowing for a longer workout with less fatigue. If you are exercising with weights and/or High Intensity Intervals, then your body needs carbohydrates for this.
How To Eat After Your Workout
This is where eating can have the largest effect on your workout. If you just spent the last 1-2 hours burning 500-1,000 calories and then go eat fast food, you’re essentially wasting your time exercising in the first place. You can’t out exercise with bad nutrition. After expending so many calories, this is the time when your body wants them the most. Your tank is running on empty, and if you want to replenish your body with healthy food. This is the best time to have protein, as it is the essential macro-nutrient to help muscles recover and grow. Focus on protein-rich foods and complex carbs to refuel your body after your workout.
Think of your body as a car. It’s best to fuel your car before a long trip and especially after. However, this car can change model based on the fuel you put in it. If the fuel is high-grade, it can change from a sedan to a sports car over time. If the fuel is sub-par, so will be your car’s output. Properly fuel your body before and after workouts, and it will upgrade to the model you hope for.