Page Description: This article has been written for only one purpose: To help you identify the kinds of food that you can and should eat before any muscle-building workout, training, or sports and the meals that the body needs after the training session that is best for your body. By now, you must agree that what you eat and put into the body can serve as workout fuel for you.

What is a pre work out meal?

A pre-workout meal is a diet or a meal that contains the right nutrient that your body needs before an exercise. Simply put, it is the meal you eat before a workout. It is important to note that every macronutrient in a meal has specific roles it carries out in the body.  The proportion at which they should be consumed depends on the individual and the type of exercise.

What is the best time for a pre-workout meal?

As you might have guessed, the timing of any meal is very crucial in sports nutrition. Ideally, you eat a meal that contains fat, carbs ad protein about 2-3 hours before you begin a workout session for better results and efficiency.  If however, on some days you are unable to eat 2-3 hours before your workout, eat food at least 45-60 minutes before the workout. Ensure that the food is simple and easy to digest. The food should mainly be carbs and some amount of protein.

Examples of pre-workout meals

  • Eggs

Eggs are one of the common foods that are often associated with fitness and workout. Because of the amino acids in them, they help in muscle protein synthesis. If you choose to do so, you can include sautéed vegetables or salad along with the eggs for more nutritional value.

  • Bananas

Because fruits contain natural sugar fructose, they are the best source of simple carbohydrates that you can take before any workout. A banana is a great example as it is widely accepted as a pre-workout fruit. It is rich in simple carbohydrates which helps in the quick release of energy into the bloodstream. It also has potassium in it that helps to maintain electrolyte balance in the body.

  • Beetroot

Beetroot (salad or juice), is a great idea for a pre-workout meal. This is because it increases the nitric oxide level which in turn, helps to dilate blood vessels and improve blood flow. To boost the cardiovascular functioning of beetroot, drink up the juice some 30 minutes before the workout.

  • Peanut butter

Peanut butter has in it healthy fats and a reasonable amount of proteins. So, you can take about 2-3 tablespoons of peanut butter with sliced apple wedges. Or, if you like, you can spread it on 2 slices of whole wheat bread for a tasty and healthy pre-workout meal. Both the apple and the whole wheat bread will provide you with carbohydrates before the workout session. So, 30-60 minutes before the session begins, you can eat it.

Other foods you can include in your meals are boiled or baked beans, oats, lentils, fruits, broccoli soup, and whole-grain pasta.  As a rule of thumb for pre-workout meals, a mixture of protein and carbs is advised. If you wish to include fat, you should eat at least a few hours before you begin your workout. Below are some meals you can try out before your workout regimen:

  • Lean protein, sandwich on whole-grain bread, and a side salad.
  • Lean protein, roasted vegetables, and brown rice
  • Egg omelet and whole-grain toast with avocado spread and a cup of fruit
  • Fruit and Greek yogurt
  • Whole-grain cereal and milk
  • A cup of oatmeal with sliced almonds and banana toppings
  • Fruits like apples, oranges, or bananas
  • Nutrition bar with wholesome ingredients and protein
  • Protein smoothie made with banana, mixed berries, milk, and protein powder.
  • Natural almond butter and fruit preserve sandwich on whole-grain bread.
  • Whole-wheat toast, boiled eggs, and berries (blackberries, raspberries, or blueberries)
  • Whole-wheat toast, peanut butter, and dried fruit
  • Oats, Greek yogurt, and banana
  • Grilled lean beef, sweet potato, and broccoli

Macronutrients found in pre-workout meals

In most pre-workout meals, you will find that 3 major macronutrients exist in them. These macronutrients include fat, carbs, and protein.

Fat

If you want to engage in long and moderate-to-low-intensity exercise, you need fat in your diet.  Research has shown that there is a relationship between the intake of fat and athletic performance. So, you can be sure that including fat in your meal will fuel your body for less intense and longer workouts.

Carbs

For every workout, your body’s muscles use the glucose found in carbs for fuel. Glycogen is the way your body processes glucose and stores it in the liver majorly and muscles. If you intend to carry out short and high-intensity exercises, the glycogen stores are the primary source of energy for your muscles. Because the glycogen stores are limited, once they become depleted, the intensity and output will diminish. To maximize glycogen stores, carb-loading is advised. It entails eating a high-carb diet for 1-7 days.

Protein

Research has it that consuming protein as part of pre-workout meals improves athletic performance. Whether or not protein is eaten along with carbs before exercise, studies have shown that it increases muscle protein synthesis. Other advantages that come with eating protein before a workout include increased muscle performance, improved muscle recovery, increased strength, and lean body mass, and finally, a better anabolic response or growth of muscles.

In addition to these, you can include some supplements in your pre-workout diet as well. Supplements like creatine, Beta-Alanine, caffeine, and multi-ingredient pre-workout supplements, which are a blend of various supplements will improve strength and enhance performance. Also, there is a need for good hydration because your body needs lots of water to function. While good hydration sustains you and enhances your performance, dehydration won’t.  So, consume some amount of water and sodium or beverages containing sodium before a workout.

Benefits of pre-workout meals

  • A pre-workout meal improves energy, power and strength, and body composition.
  • A pre-workout meal boosts energy levels.
  • A pre-workout meal accelerates performance results and aids fitness goals.
  • A pre-workout meal increases mental focus and delays fatigue.
  • A pre-workout meal reduces protein breakdown.
post workout meal prep

What is a post-workout meal?

A post-workout meal is a meal you eat after a workout session. It is a meal you eat to supply your body with the right amount of nutrients for adequate recovery and full maximization of the workout. The best meals are those that digest easily for fast nutrient absorption.

What is the best time for a post-workout meal?

Eating a good meal after a workout is not as important as eating it at the right time. This is because your body’s ability to rebuild protein and glycogen is enhanced after your exercise. So, due to this, it is best to eat meals that contain carbs and protein as soon as you can after the exercise. In time past, experts advised consuming post-workout meals after 45 minutes of exercise. Now, it is best to continue eating small and well-balanced meals of protein and carbs every 3-4 hours.

Post-workout meals samples

  • Rice, grilled chicken, and roasted vegetables
  • Salmon and sweet potato
  • Protein shake and banana
  • Tuna and crackers
  • Oatmeal, whey protein, banana, and almonds
  • Greek yogurt, granola, and berries
  • Whole grain toast and almond butter
  • Rice crackers and peanut butter
  • Egg omelet with avocado spread on whole-grain toast
  • Tuna salad sandwich on whole grain bread

Macronutrients found in post-workout meals

Eating the right food after a workout session is very important. There are 3 major macronutrients found in these meals. They include protein, carbs, and fats. They have the functions they perform in the body.

Protein

Protein helps with the repair and building of the muscles. Exercise causes the breakdown of muscle protein. Consequently, the rate at which this happens depends on the level of training you have and the exercises you do. but, when you consume a good amount of protein after working out, your body receives the amino acids it needs to repair and if need be, rebuilds proteins. Also, it gives the building blocks necessary to build new tissue muscle.

Examples of protein for post-workout meals include Greek yogurt, eggs, protein bar, tuna, chicken, plant or animal-based protein powder, and salmon.

Carbs

For recovery after exercise, think about carbs. Because the glycogen stores in the body are used up during exercise, consuming carbs will replenish them. The rate at which the glycogen stores deplete depends on the exercise. Resistance training will not require as much glycogen as endurance sports. So, if you participate in swimming, running, or any other endurance sport, there is a need for you to take in more carbs than someone who engages in weightlifting.

Examples of carbs for post-workout meals include fruits rice, oatmeal, whole-grain bread, sweet potatoes, chocolate, milk, and pasta.

Fats

Contrary to the opinion of many that fat consumption is bad after a workout because it slows down digestion and inhibits the absorption of nutrients, it has its benefits. Although consuming fat could slow down the absorption of post-workout meals, it doesn’t reduce the benefits. So, while it might do you good to include some fat in your post-workout meal after an exercise, you might want to limit the amount you include in it.

Examples of fats for post-workout meals include seeds, nuts, avocados, and nut butter.

meal prep activities

Conclusion

Both pre-workout and post-workout meals are very vital to your body and health in general for both beginner and professional athletes. Drinking water before and after a workout is very important replenishing the water and electrolytes you lose during an exercise is vital for recovery. If you want, you can get an electrolyte drink for after a workout too.

References

Post-Workout Nutrition: What to Eat After a Workout

Best pre-workout meals to fetch your fitness goals

The Best Pre-Workout Meals For Fuel and EnergyPre-Workout Nutrition: What to Eat Before a Workout