We’ve probably said it before, but 80% of your workout is your diet. Whether your goal is to bulk up or slim down, the majority of your body changes will come from what you’re eating. Of course, exercise is important too, but you won’t be benching any PBs (personal bests) if you’re not giving your body the fuel it needs to get stronger, faster, bigger, leaner, etc.
What to eat before your workout
Carbs got a bad reputation in the 90s, but all they are is a source of energy. Carbohydrates are a more efficient energy source before a workout as they break down into smaller sugars that your body uses as energy much quicker than fats and proteins. Not only is this important to give you energy for your workout, but it means that your body will have time to digest the food properly and make use of its nutrients.
Protein takes longer to digest, that’s why it leaves you feeling fuller for longer. However, if you eat a load of protein before you workout, your body will prioritise the physical activity and divert blood flow away from the digestive system.
“Fat slows down digestion, which means it will slow down the conversion of food to usable energy. You can also experience GI cramping, which will disrupt your workout.”Lisa Hayim, RDN, founder of the Well Necessities in New York City.
And remember what they said about eating before you go swimming? Well, that’s why. Your body won’t digest the food properly and you could experience some uncomfortable situations.
The more intense your workout, the less food you’ll want nestling in your belly, so try not to eat for at least 2 hours before an intense workout.
Note: Have a small meal (300-500 calories) 2-3 hours before a workout, and if you need the energy, a snack (100-200 calories) 1 hour before a workout.
What to eat after a workout
There’s an old gym myth that you need to eat a load of protein within 30 minutes of completing a workout, otherwise, all that work was for NOTHING!
Calm down. The 30-minute window is a good idea as it reminds you to eat something to replenish your body after your workout. The biggest benefit being that most people opt for something healthy (or something they think is healthy) after a workout. You’re less likely to snack on a donut on your way out of the gym than you are a protein bar or a kale smoothie.
Yes, you should eat some protein, but as long as you get enough throughout the day, you’ll be fine. You’re going to be tired after your workout, so give yourself some nice, healthy food to help keep you going afterwards.
Post-workout carb to protein ratio
You may have seen the 4:1 ratio appearing in fitness articles here and there. This carbohydrate:protein ratio was established based on research by Ivy & Burke in their literature review “Carbohydrates and fat for training and recovery”.
Their research looked at the importance of athletes replenishing their glycogen stores between workouts. This highlights how important it is to get some carbs into your body after your workout in order to heal and repair efficiently.
It could be argued that the 4:1 ratio is slightly skewered as it is dealing with high-performing athletes, as further research has shown that strength gains were made in elderly subjects with a 1:1 ratio.
So while research does favour the 4:1 ratio, it doesn’t necessarily exclude other ratios such as 3:1 and 5:1, which have not been as extensively researched.
I wish I had a better answer for you than this vague statement, but as long as you’re replenishing your glycogen stores and feeding your body some protein throughout the day, then you’ll still see results from all the hard work you’ve been doing.
Gay personal trainer
If you want more/better advice than this wishy washy article, you might benefit from working with a gay personal trainer. They can advise you about nutrition as well as help you work out an exercise plan so that you progress in your training faster and easier.