You hit the gym hard day after day… but are you getting the most bang for your buck? How you eat before and after your workout plays a huge role in the results you see. Here’s what you should look for in the meals that bookend your gym time.
When it comes to packing on weight, are you a hard gainer or an easy gainer? If you are a hard gainer, your caloric intake should be high and you should put an emphasis on simple carbs. You’re total intake of simple and complex carbs should land between 100-150g. If you’re an easy gainer, stick to 70-90g of complex, slow-digesting carbs. Along with carbohydrates, you’ll need protein. Protein helps keep you in an anabolic state while providing much-needed amino acids. These amino acids reduce cortisol levels while boosting testosterone during your workout. Not only that, they diminish muscle damage and prevent delayed-onset muscle soreness. Regardless of your body’s ability to gain weight, shoot for 20-40g of protein before hitting the gym.
Choosing the right time for your pre-workout meal is crucial to reaping its benefits. You need to give your body time to digest. Why? You need digestion to occur so you can access the energy from the carbohydrates. Digestion requires blood. Your workout also requires blood. Having the two working at the same time does not allow either to function optimally. Ideally, you want to wait 1-3 hours after eating before you workout.
You need to plan on eating right after your workout. A fast-absorbing protein like whey isolate, along with a hefty amount of carbohydrates, is key. The type of pre-workout carb you consumed will effect what you will eat post-workout. If you consumed mostly fast-acting simple carbs, your insulins levels will be high and now primed to receive both simple and complex carbs. If you consumed only complex carbs in your pre-workout meal, you can consume both types in the post workout – but keep an emphasis on complex carbs. Follow this meal with slower-digesting animal protein about 60-90 minutes after. This is also a perfect time for some healthy fats – which won’t be stored as fat. Consuming fats after training supports immunity, testosterone levels, and upgrades insulin sensitivity (which will help you pack on lean, mean mass). When you pair carbs with fats after exercise, you create an extended anabolic environment. Carbohydrates begin the release of insulin and dietary fats improve the insulin’s ability to pair up with the muscles creating a state of massive growth!
MEAL PLAN FOR OPTIMAL GROWTH
- 4-8oz of grilled chicken breast
- 1 cup of brown rice (40g of complex carbs)
Post-Workout Meal #1 (immediately after workout)
- 1-2 scoops of whey protein isolate w/ cold water
- 1 cup of sweet potatoes (40g of complex carbs)
Post-Workout Meal #2 (90 min later)
- 4-8oz of grilled chicken breast
- 1 cup of brown rice (40g of complex)
- 2 cups of broccoli (12g of fibrous carbs)[/color-box]
- It is recommended that your pre-workout meal be low in fiber. This provides for quicker absorption into the system and helps avoid GI issues or complications during your workout.
- Proteins: Studies show that between 1 and 1½ grams of protein per pound of body weight is more than enough for optimal muscle growth.
- Carbohydrates: Studies show that about 1 gram of carbohydrate per pound of body weight is more than enough for optimal muscle growth.
- Although non-animal proteins like whey are digested quickly (making them perfect for immediate use after a workout), animal proteins are more effectively used by the body long term.
- Feel free to substitute for different complex carbohydrates, lean protein, and fibrous carbs.