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Should I Eat Before or After Exercise

By Muscle Media


Deciding whether to eat before or after your workouts is important for getting the most of your time in the gym. You work hard when you exercise trying to maintain good health. You have to eat wisely so that your body has the energy necessary to work out as well as you’re your Activities of Daily Living (ADLs). What you eat before and after your workouts is important. But, the timing of your meals before and after each workout is equally important.

Pre workout meal

The ideal time to eat your pre workout meal is 1 hour before you start. If you are working at a lower intensity level, keep this meal down to around 200 calories or so. If you are working at a higher intensity level, you may need this meal to be as high as 400 to 500 calories. Whether you are planning a cardio workout or a resistance workout, you should make it a point to eat a mix of carbohydrates and protein. What determines the percentage of carbohydrates and protein is the type of workout (cardio or resistance) and the exercise intensity level.

If you are doing a cardio session, you will need to consume a meal composed of 2/3 carbohydrates and 1/3 protein. This will provide you with longer sustained energy from the extra carbohydrates and enough protein to keep muscle from breaking down.

If you are doing a resistance session, you should consume 1/3 carbohydrates and 2/3 protein. This will give you enough energy from the carbohydrates to perform each set.  The extra protein will help keep muscle breakdown to a minimum. Research has suggested that your body most effectively uses protein during exertion. Taking in more protein before resistance workouts aids in faster recovery.

Post workout meal

Eating after a workout is just as important as the pre workout meal. When you exercise, whether a cardio or resistance session, you deplete energy in the form of glycogen. The brain and central nervous system rely on glycogen as the main source of fuel. It is important to replace the glycogen immediately after exercise. If not replaced, the body will begin breaking down muscle tissue into amino acids and convert them into usable fuel for the brain and central nervous system.

During resistance workouts, muscle tissue is broken down by creating micro tears. This means that following a workout, your muscles go into a repair phase. Proteins are the key macronutrient for muscle repair. A post-exercise meal is necessary to prevent the muscle tissue breaking down to replace the lost glycogen.

Cardio session

After finishing a cardio session, you will need to consume mostly carbohydrates, preferably high fiber carbs. Oatmeal, rice, whole wheat pasta, and most northern fruits are good sources. Within 5 to 10 minutes of completion a cardio session, consume between 30 to 50 grams of these carbohydrates.

Should-I-Eat-resistance-Muscle-MediaResistance session

If you have just finished a resistance session, you will need a combination of carbohydrates and protein. Unlike cardio workouts, resistance workouts break down muscle tissue by creating micro tears. The protein is necessary to repair these tears allowing the muscle to increase in size and strength. The carbs not only replace the lost muscle glycogen, but also help the protein get into our muscle cells so it can repair structural muscle protein.

Chicken or fish with a potato, egg whites with a piece of fruit, or a protein shake with fruit are good meals after resistance workouts. Remember to keep the fiber low. High fiber slows down digestion. This means that protein will take longer to reach the muscle cells.

After resistance, it is recommended to wait 30 minutes before eating so as not to take blood away from the worked muscles too soon. The blood in muscles helps the repair process by removing metabolic waste products. Finally, any fats should be consumed well before and well after exercise.

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