We have witnessed a quick development and growing interest in the field of nutrition, over the past few decades. We now know how to keep our bodies healthy and at peak performance by consuming the right food and multivitamins. Now, apart from making the right choice of ingredients, for those of us who care the most, it also makes a difference to know when to eat them. Your exercise routine can appear easier if you gain stamina through the right food at the right time.
Nutrition for athletes
A healthy person with a regular exercise routine could probably eat some one or two hours prior to your workout and about an hour or two after it, and not worry about a special plan. As an endurance athlete, you may need a boost of carbs and calories during your training. On the other hand, a bodybuilder could benefit from an intake of proteins and calories. It is safe to say that both types of athletes could add a snack of protein and carbs during their training. Only if you are getting ready for a fitness competition and you want to have a really low body fat percentage, you should lower the intake of carbs and eat more of essential amino acids. Don’t forget to hydrate regularly.
While lately we have constantly been told that nutrient timing is essential, it is something you can, by all means, live without. It is a very good tool for those who require structure and need a boost for self-discipline. To those who do not fall under this description, the nutrient timing may be just another burden. Having to think about the right nutrients and the time to consume them can be very stressful. Nutrient timing, however, can be very beneficial.
Pre-exercise nutrition – Protein
Eating protein an hour or two before exercising can help boost your muscle size, you can maintain the existing size or increase it. They can also minimize muscle damage by reducing the markers such as creatine kinase and myoglobin. Reduced damage to muscles leads to faster recovery and consequently to an adaptation of muscles to exercise. Proteins also give an injection of amino acids at the moment when the body needs it the most.
Pre-exercise nutrition – Carbs
Carbs before exercise provide enough fuel for the training and help recovery. Carbs are needed for long endurance workouts, as well as shorter high-intensity training. They will also increase muscle retention and preserve liver glycogen. Furthermore, it stimulates insulin production. This is not only good for diabetics, but it also improves protein synthesis and prevents their breakdown.
Pre-exercise nutrition – Fats
Even though they are avoided by most, fats still play an important role. They provide certain minerals and vitamins. When eaten prior to exercising, they do not seem to affect the performance in any way. Their major role here seems to be the slowing down of the metabolism and maintaining the level of glucose and insulin and keeping you in balance. Eat a large balanced meal about 2-3 hours before the workout or alternatively have a smaller meal closer to the workout, within the last hour. In order to be able to digest everything properly, the meal should be liquid.
During the exercise nutrition
The nutritional needs during the workout are similar to those from the pre-exercising period. The most important thing is to stay hydrated. Secondly, you are looking for an instant source of energy and a way to retain muscles and improve muscle recovery. Fats may be difficult to digest while exercising, however, you are more than welcome to some protein and carbs. You need about 15 grams per hour to prevent muscle breakdown, perhaps even as little as 5 grams during a competition. When it comes to carbs which a are excellent as an instant fuel, you should eat only 30grams – 45 grams if you plan on combining them with proteins. If not, you can have as much as 60grams-80grams.
Post-exercise nutrition – Protein
The need for muscle recovery after a workout is perfectly met by protein. They help maintain and increase the muscle tissue. While fast-acting proteins used to seem like a logical solution, lately, it has been found otherwise. The hydrolyzed, fast-digesting proteins are in and out of your body too quickly. This is why they do not get a chance to maximize protein synthesis or fully inhibit protein breakdown. You can take it in the form of Prodefine or any other protein powder, or as whole food. Eat about 2 palms (40-60grams) of protein after the workout if you are a man, and one if you are a woman.
Post-exercise nutrition – Carbs and Fats
Refined carbohydrates and sugars are not necessary nor required straight after a workout. Instead simply eating some whole food and fruit is more efficient as it will help maintain liver glycogen. They are also better tolerated and an excellent boost for the following day. Despite the common belief, there is nothing wrong with eating fats after a workout. The fats can slow down digestion, but that is no longer an issue.
Eating a well-balanced meal within about two hours before or after the training can make a difference. Regardless of whether you have opted for solids or liquids, they will help you fulfill the nutritional requirements and achieve your goals. This is of, course more important if you are a professional athlete than simply a person who cares about the overall well-being.
About the Author: Ian Pearson is a passionate sports fan, nature and photography enthusiast, and is always trying to keep up to date with tech innovations and development.