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"What should I eat before and after my workouts?"

This is an important question that Maureen asked on the CKNW Sunday Night Sex Show a couple of days ago.

My answer might surprise you because it is so simple. If you think you need to load up on energy bars, sports drinks, pills and powders, you are wrong.  

  

What your body needs

Let’s say you’re happy with what the scale says and just want to maintain your weight. For this to happen, you need to intake enough food (calories) to cover your body’s daily functions (also called basal metabolic rate) plus some to cover your daily physical activities. Nothing more, nothing less.

That being said, all calories aren’t made equal. You need to focus on nutrient dense foods - foods that will not only provide you with calories, but also with a host of micronutrients (minerals, vitamins, etc…) that will help your body function optimally.

You can find these foods on the outside perimeter of any grocery store. Animal products, vegetables, fruits, tubers, nuts, seeds, whole grains. Anything you could raise or cultivate on a farm is best.

On the other hand, you want to avoid “empty calories”. Most processed foods fall into this category including “sports” drinks and “protein” bars. These products all have one thing in common: they are loaded with added sugars which you honestly don’t need.

Claims that these products contain beneficial vitamins and other micronutrients may be true, but they are chemical based and added back in during production. Unfortunately due to their composition, they are not as readily available for the body to utilize as they would be from a “whole” food. Thus it is best to steer clear from those items altogether and opt for non-processed foods for fuel. 

 

Simple guidelines

Now you’re eating a healthy diet. You’re eating REAL foods and you’re feeling great.

Have a balanced* meal about 2 hours before your workout. It could be closer, but some people find it uncomfortable to train with a full stomach.

*Think protein, carbs, fats.
Fish, rice and salad with olive oil dressing. 
Chicken sandwich on whole wheat bread with avocado.
Eggs, stir-fry veggies and sweet potato hash.

If you like eating something straight after your workout, have a fruit (banana, grapes, etc..) and some nuts. These are convenient and tasty as well.

When you get home, have a full meal, along the lines of what you had earlier that day. If you’re starving, eat a bit more, but don’t stuff yourself until your belly hurts.

It is important to stay hydrated during and after your gym session. Keep a bottle with you and hydrate according to your thirst cues.  

Like I said, it’s simple stuff. Keep it that way and you'll be just fine.

 
Picture of Supplements
 

What about supplements?

There's a time and a place for them. But for the majority of people, they aren't necessary. Like Dr Lorne Brown said on the show, “[supplements] are there to supplement a good diet and a good lifestyle”. So get your basics down before you think about adding pills and potions to your shopping list.

Listen to the recording of the show here and tune in next Sunday at 8pm on AM980 for the CKNW Sunday Night Sex Show.

What do you like eating before and after your workouts? Let me know in the comments below!

 

***Disclaimer - As a personal trainer I can offer general nutritional guidelines for better health and performance. However, I am not certified or licensed to give specific nutritional plans, menus or prescribe any supplements as it is outside the scope of my practice. If you are looking for a specific dietary plan, please seek out the guidance of a certified professional (Nutritionist, Dietician, etc) to complement your training and lifestyle needs.*** 
Sean is a personal trainer and online coach based in Vancouver, BC. He focuses on beginner strength training and online programming for recreational lifters and athletes. He believes in the value of hard work when applied to a smart training program. Sean has a keen eye for good movement and encourages a positive lifestyle to support good training results.

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