Every workout needs the proper nutrition to fuel it correctly, but each mode of exercise requires a different approach to maximize performance because of the body’s several metabolic pathways that utilize different fuel sources. While nutrient timing may not mean everything, it can give you that single percentage advantage that can add to an extra couple repetitions in the gym or that final sprint in a race. Whatever your goals may be, try some of these pre and post-workout recipes that can fuel your workout specifically for whatever type of physical activity you may be performing.
Long Distance Running
If you’re exercising for a longer period of time at a low intensity (30-90 minutes) you will be using a combination of aerobic lipolysis (fat) and aerobic glycolysis (carbohydrate) as your primary fuel sources depending on your cardiovascular conditioning. Because of this you will need a moderate amount of carbohydrates, fat and a bit of protein to best sustain your workout.
Following your workout, you will have burnt a significant number of calories and burned through a good amount of glycogen stores so depending on your goals the amount of calories you ingest may change but your goal should be to consume some carbohydrates to replenish glycogen and protein to induce muscle protein synthesis (muscle repair).
1 cup of low-fiber cereal with ½ cup 2% skim milk: Eat this 30 minutes before a workout. The milk will provide protein and the combination of cereal and milk will supply carbs and a bit of fat to keep you energized.
1 cup of cooked white rice and 4 ounces of grilled chicken breast: Following your long distance run the white rice will be a high glycemic index carbohydrate to help replenish glycogen as quickly as possible and the chicken will provide the protein needed for muscle repair.
HIIT (Soccer, Rugby, Football, MMA, Circuit Training, Crossfit)
If you’re exercising at a high intensity for a shorter duration of time or alternating higher intensities with lower intensities, then you will be using a combination of aerobic (with oxygen) and anaerobic (without oxygen) glycolysis. This means you will be almost exclusively fueling your workout through your stored carbohydrates (glycogen) and your performance will vary depending on your nutrition to a greater degree.
Due to the intensity of these workouts, it’s vital to follow a healthy nutrition plan with adequate nutrition in the days and hours leading up to a workout. Plan on a high-carbohydrate meal that also includes protein approximately three to four hours before the HIIT workout, and then another high-carbohydrate snack with protein within an hour after the workout.
Two slices of whole-wheat toast with peanut butter and banana: This is high in carbohydrates, the bread and banana will help fill your glycogen stores and the peanut butter will provide a bit of protein and fat to help fuel your HIIT training.
Chicken with pita and 1 cup white rice: Research shows that a 3:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein within 30 minutes of completing a HIIT workout is best for replenishing energy stores following hit training. The pita and rice will provide the carbohydrates needed and chicken will give you the protein needed for recovery.
Strength Training (Weightlifting, Powerlifting, Bodybuilding)
If you are exercising at an extremely high intensity for short durations of <30 seconds, you will primarily be using the creatine phosphate (ATP-CP) system. This means that stored muscle creatine concentrations will play a role in the ability to regenerate ATP (energy) to perform these bouts of exercise. By consuming foods that are high in creatine hours before a session, you can effectively increase muscle creatine concentrations to help perform exercise. Although not highly dependent on carbohydrates it is advisable to consume a carbohydrate preworkout in a addition to a protein that has a high creatine concentration.
The highest creatine concentrated protein are found in beef, salmon, and tuna. It is accounted that about one pound of beef consists of 5 grams of creatine monohydrate and one pound of red meat contains 2 grams of creatine monohydrate. There are about 4.5 grams in one pound of salmon.
Because this type of exercise creates a significant amount of muscle microtrauma and delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), it is important to ingest a high quality protein and carbohydrate source following the exercise to induce muscle repair.
4 oz top sirloin steak and 1 sweet potato: Complex carbohydrates in the potato combined with high creatine and protein in the steak will make for a successful strength training workout.
1 banana, ½ cup of blueberries and 1 scoop of whey protein: The fruit will provide the carbohydrates needed to replenish any depleted muscle glycogen and the protein will be high in leucine content and the fastest absorbed protein available to initiate an anabolic response for muscle repair immediately.