Eating the right food is a very important part of fitness. But there’s more to fitness than eating some foods and avoiding others. Timing is a factor you can’t overlook, and it’s recommended you have your dinner, for example, before sundown. Just as significant a part is knowing when to eat if you’re working out. Before, or after? This article tells you everything you need to know before you make a decision.
Working out, whether before or after a meal, presents its unique benefits, and understanding these can help optimize your training and recovery process. Some exercises might benefit from pre-workout fueling, while others necessitate a post-workout nutritional boost for maximum results.
Training Without Eating
Contrary to some beliefs, fasted training doesn’t necessarily improve performance in endurance exercises. Instead, evidence supports the idea that having a meal or snack at least 2 to 3 hours before training, referred to as fed exercise, can fuel your workout more effectively. Research shows that this approach could lead to enhanced performance, more substantial calorie expenditure, and a higher chance of achieving your workout goals, such as increased speed, strength, and muscle gain.
Eating After Training
Following your workout, consuming a shake or meal within an hour can offer augmented benefits, particularly for those striving for muscle mass. Post-workout, your muscles are primed for protein synthesis. Consuming a mix of carbohydrates and proteins can supercharge your muscle growth. If you’ve completed your workout in a fasted state, post-workout nutrition becomes even more critical, with a combination of carbohydrates and protein offering the most benefits.
After about an hour, a balanced meal with protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats becomes crucial for recovery. Healthy fats, for instance, facilitate the absorption of fat-soluble nutrients and play an essential role in hormone production, contributing to muscle mass increase, fat loss, and athletic performance boost.
While personal preference often dictates when we eat relative to our workouts, the emphasis should be on replenishing nutrients and maintaining proper hydration and fuel levels. Although fasted training might lead to increased fat oxidation, fueling your workouts can support more intense training and mitigate extreme hunger post-workout.
Whether your goal is improved performance or muscle gain, ensuring adequate food consumption before and after workouts is recommended. For muscle gain, a calorie surplus coupled with weight-bearing exercise is required, while endurance workouts need substantial energy, particularly glycogen derived from pre-workout carbohydrates. Therefore, strategic refueling with glycogen and protein is key to optimal performance and recovery.