Everyone seems to be searching for the best foods to eat prior to working out and for the post workout. More than likely you have heard conflicting advice on this topic when it comes to what to eat and drink and when to do so. There is plenty of scientifically supported evidence out there that can guide you to your goal of getting bigger, stronger and faster but where do you start? The best start is to is to look at what the professionals do to meet their goals, the professionals in this case being nutritionists and athletes.
Making sure that you are consuming an adequate amount of protein is essential to any workout plan because protein is what your body uses to repair muscle tissue. The amount of protein that an individual needs can vary greatly depending on how active that person is, what type of activity the person is performing, the period of time the exercise is performed for, as well as the weight of the individual. Preferably these foods should be lean proteins like chicken, turkey, pork, fish, yogurt, peas, lentils etc. Incorporating at least some plant based protein in to your diet is suggested due to the additional benefit of complex carbohydrates and fiber found within these plants.
Generally speaking, an individual wants to get roughly 25% of their daily calories from protein sources. If the individual is performing strength training exercises involving heavy lifting, it is recommended that they consume close to 80% of their body weight in grams of protein daily. For someone who focuses more on endurance training for example, they would need less protein, about 60% of their body weight in grams of protein daily. For instance a person who weighs 150lbs and is performing intense weight training exercises, they would want to consume about 120 grams of protein daily.
Hydration is one aspect of training that everyone seems to be aware of yet many people do not take advantage of. Optimizing hydration can greatly affect performance when it comes to training, especially if the training program is moderate to intense. Do not wait until you feel thirsty, at this point it is too late and your body is already sending you signals that it is dehydrated. The simple solution is to be proactive and to supply your body with a sufficient amount of water consistently throughout your workout. This will reduce cramps, charlie horses, etc.
As far as what to drink, water is really all that most people need to successfully complete their exercise routine or event. This means that sports drinks, energy drinks, fruit juices, or any alternative to water is really unnecessary unless you are performing in some long distance endurance event. All these drinks do for the average person is provide an excess of calories that they don’t need which cut in to their progressions.
Making sure that you eat the right types of carbohydrates is also extremely important when it comes to maximizing the results you see from your exercise routine. Carbohydrates are just long chains of sugar and provide us with the same type of energy source, so why eat pasta over a candy bar for example? You this because these longer chains take more energy and thus a longer period of time for your body to break down. This means that your body has a more consistent supply of energy over a longer period of time when you eat carbohydrates as opposed to simple sugars which are broken down much faster and thus absorbed much more quickly.
In addition to eating carbohydrates over sugars, one should try to eat whole grains as opposed to more processed foods for similar reasons. Whole grains have more fiber and thus take longer to digest, which takes the body longer to absorb, thus further stabilizing blood sugar.
Similarly to protein consumption, the amount of carbohydrates that individual needs daily can vary greatly. Again this depends on the individuals height, weight, level of activity and duration of activity as well. Generally speaking an individual who is performing light exercise should consume 1 gram of carbohydrate per pound of bodyweight daily, those who perform more intense exercise over a longer duration should look to consume about 3 grams of carbohydrates per pound of body weight.