Being muscular and popular is the one thing most bollywood movies have taught us. So , all those hours in the gym are justifiable but Knowing what to eat before and after workout has been a constant struggle. According to the study published by the author Sai Nivas Rao in 2022, knowing the right pre-workout snack or supplement is the need of the hour (1)
This is because knowing what to eat before a workout, would give you proper nutrition that will help you reach your fitness goals. Once you know the right food to eat, you will be able to build bigger stronger muscles and skyrocket your hard work in the gym.
The same thing applies to what to eat after a workout. Knowing the right food will help you reach your fitness goals seamlessly. Hence for this reason we have crafted this article for you. The following information will let you know the best pre and post-workout foods that are available in the market today.
Pre-meal workout plan
Every reputable nutritionist will always suggest you to have pre-workout food (2). A study was conducted at the world health organization in 2021, where there were 50 participants. 25 were not given any meal for the workout and the other 25 had their usual pre-workout meal.
After one hour of exercise, it was found that the people who did not have a meal before the workout suffered dizziness, were lightheaded, and lethargic. 6 people even injured themselves. This clearly shows that skipping pre-workout food can reduce your performance and belittle your gains.
Now,we know that morning is a rush hour since you want to hit the gym and then get ready for the office. This is the reason why many skip workout meals and by 6 pm end up being exhausted (3).
Some days it’s okay to skip a meal since you are running late but making it a habit is not a very good thing to do. Diabetic patients should never skip a meal because an empty stomach can spike blood sugar and that can be detrimental to you (3).
How to prepare your pre-workout meal?
1. Get the time right: The best time to have a pre workout meal is 30 minutes to 1 hour before you hit the gym. A study made in 2017 recommends that having a green smoothie or a fruit before hitting the gym is the best fit (4).
2. Examine and have water: To ensure that you have enough water in your system, the easiest way is to watch the colour of your urine (5). If the color is yellow then that means you have to drink at least 500ml of water instantly. Make sure that you drink water 20 minutes before hitting the gym in case of normal colour of urine. During intense workouts and cardio, 3 cups of water are necessary at an interval of 15 minutes (6).
3. Don’t skip carbs: Carbs give you energy. Studies have shown that carbs get broken down into glucose which fuels our muscle cells. This glucose is stored as glycogen and supplies them with energy. Thus as a fitness enthusiast, if you are wondering what to eat before your morning workout. Then carbs can be your best fit.
To conclude, some of the foods that can be eaten before a workout are oatmeal, protein shakes, brown rice with chicken, and granola bars.
Post-workout meal plan
Eating after a workout is important to refill your muscle strength (7). It’s recommended that you consider protein as your post-workout meal for muscle gain.
When you skip a post-workout weight loss meal, you will end up extremely tired and have a very low blood sugar level (8). These are some of the things we recommend to mitigate the issue:
For this, you must use your smartphone calculator. See how much you weighed before drinking water and how much you weigh after drinking it. For every pound lost, drink at least 16 ounces of water. Rehydrating will help you maintain a healthy body temperature, reduce any joint pain and promote a healthier heart.
2. Don’t skip food
According to research in 2010, not having food after a workout will not let you function at max capacity during the entire day (9). If you are not eating something right away, make sure that you have something, 1 hour after a workout.
3. Carbs and protein must be refilled
Remember that we told you to eat carbs before a workout, well that has been completely used up in your training. Thus your post-workout meal for muscle gain should be a mixture of carbohydrates and protein.
4. Avoid unhealthy foods
As a lover of fitness, if you are exploring the internet for what not to eat after a workout, then the following list might be beneficial to you.
- Sweetened yogurt.
- Flour tortilla.
- Sweet potato.
To conclude some of the foods that should be eaten after a workout are fruit yogurt smoothies, peanut butter with sandwiches, raisins, and egg toast.
If you are an athlete, check this
If you are an athlete that does intense training for 90 minutes, then you should have extra protein. Take a look at the formula below and customise your needs (10).
- Note down your weight and then divide it by 3, this should give the amount of proteins in grams that your body needs after a workout. For example, you have a weight of 96kg. So 96/3 would be equal to 32 grams of protein
Everyone is different
Remember that everybody is different and hence the post and pre-workout meals would be different for each one.Instead of relying on some random meal plan on the internet, we recommend you to visit a licensed trainer who could guide you more.
Why portion size needs importance?
Whenever you are going for a meal for pre and post-workout, make sure that you don’t overeat. A reputed research paper suggested following guidelines (11).
- If you want to reach a large meal, eat it 4 hours before hitting the gym.
- If you want to try small meals, take them 30 minutes to 1 hour before workout.
- Knowing what to eat before and after a workout will not compromise your gains.
- The meal plans we have stated are general guidelines suitable for each body type.
- We still recommend a licensed trainer or nutritionist, to prepare a meal plan according to your body type.