Does Pre and Post Workout Nutrition Matter?
If you are reading this article, you are likely looking for ways to get better results. When it comes to results, we are looking at two things: increasing skeletal muscle, and decreasing body fat. Results don’t come easy as we know. You must be crafted in the art and science of eating well and exercising. However, one more component may be a game changer for you and that is considering your pre and post workout nutrition. This is typically the first “behavior” I talk about when consulting beginners or people trying to break through a plateau.
Before we dive into the nitty gritty, let’s first talk about you. What do you want? There are two main categories when it comes to “desired results.” Those who desire to burn fat, and those who desire to build muscle. If you need to lose 20-30lbs you should prioritize your goals around burning fat for fuel. If you have less than 20lbs to lose and you have been weight training for more than 6 months, prioritize your goals around building lean mass. Your nutrition, exercise, and supplement “goals” will differ contingent upon what you want for “results.” Results are based on outcome while goals are based on behavior. Get it!?
First, let’s discuss pre-workout nutrition. If your main objective is to burn fat (opposed to building muscle) then avoid high carbohydrate nutrition prior to your workout. A banana for example seems to be the most popular pre-workout strategy. Not sure how, but it somehow made it to the top of the list. A banana has a high amount of fructose, impacting your blood sugar resulting in an increase in insulin. This puts your exercise metabolism in a difficult position to prioritize fat as its main fuel. Instead, try keeping your pre workout nutrition to fat and protein, or nothing at all. Nuts and string cheese are good options. A few yummy eggs are good. How about some heavy cream for you coffee drinkers….skip the sugar! My personal favorite pre workout nutrition strategy is Spark. Spark has minimal caloric impact but provides some caffeine, B vitamins, and amino acids for good energy without a crash. This allows you to burn fat better because it’s not influencing insulin as a banana would.
If you are doing cardio (to burn fat) your best bet is to keep the pre workout nutrition to protein and fat, or a supplement like Spark. When weight training, include creatine in your pre workout nutrition. Only use creatine after you have had experience weight training under your belt or looking to bust through a plateau. Making sure you are lifting weights with proper form is a priority before adding this supplement. Creatine is going to help your muscles produce ATP at a higher rate. ATP is what gives your muscles energy to move. If you have ever been to Fuse Fitness Coaching, we move heavy objects many times! That said, at Fuse, the creatine supplement we recommend is Mass Impact, taken 30 minutes prior to weight training. I like to mix it with Spark 30 minutes before a workout on an empty stomach.
Post workout nutrition is also an important subject. Some say, it’s more important than your pre workout nutrition. Your strategy will depend on your desired results. If your primary objective is to burn fat, the recommendations is to have a 1:1 ratio of carbohydrate and protein after your workout. If your primary objective is to increase muscle, the recommendations are to consume a 3:1 ratio of carbohydrate and protein post workout.
After a weight training session, your muscles crave nutrients. Glycogen (muscle fuel) has been depleted and small adhesions have formed due to muscle breakdown. The time has now arrived when it is critical to increase insulin. Yes, you heard it….increase insulin. In order to deliver all the goodies into your muscles, you must have an insulin spike. Hence, the 1:1 or 3:1 carbohydrate to protein ratios. The carbohydrates help boost blood sugar which increases insulin. Insulin opens up the muscle cells which allows nutrients to enter and repair the tissue.
Creatine is also proven to improve the recovery rate of muscles. So, those of you doing push on Monday and pull on Tuesday, understand the need for quick recovery. Creatine, combined with carbohydrates aids in the recovery process and can be taken with protein. If you can recover quicker that means you can get back to weight training faster so you can continue to boost your metabolism!
Why not just do food for a post workout? You can…as long as it’s getting you results! If you are seeing the results you are wanting then don’t change a thing. A meal post workout typically includes fat and fiber. Both of which slow down digestion, which is normally a good thing, except post workout. As you recall, we need to have an insulin spike post workout to maximize the recovery process. Having a “controlled” strategy like a liquid protein drink is a more effective option to deliver results. We recommend a product called Post Workout Recovery that delivers a 3:1 carb to protein ratio with creatine and amino acids. This is the best post workout nutrition solution that I have seen for those who want to focus on building muscle.
For the individuals who have their focus on burning fat I would recommend a different product for post workout nutrition. Meal Replacement Shake by Advocare is a great solution. They have great flavors and are all 1:1 carb to protein ratios. My favorite is Chocolate Peanut Butter, and I use them when I fail at meal prep for a day (yep I have done that).
Next, let’s dive into the nutrition timing based on what time of day you are weight training.
Morning lifters: Take Spark with Mass Impact (or Catalyst!!) 30 minutes before you work out. After your workout, wait 30-45 minutes then take your post workout nutrition. IE Post Workout Recovery or Meal Replacement Shake, then wait about an hour for breakfast. If you are taking MNS you would include that in your pre workout nutrition.
Afternoon or night lifters: Wait about 2 hours after lunch before taking your Mass Impact (or Catalyst) and Spark. Wait 30-45 minutes for your post workout nutrition, then follow up with dinner or snack an hour latera.
Dietary supplements can give an edge to helping you get the results you want when taken properly. I hope this post helps you identify strategies that you may include in your routine. If you are struggling getting the results you want try some of these strategies. Changing up the pre and post workout nutrition may be the ticket to busting through a plateau.
Little things done consistently over time can have major impact on the results you see. This is considering you are consuming a relatively healthy diet. Pre or post workout supplements are not going to help you if you are hitting up the “drive thru” every day! Good nutrition choices and disciplined exercise is the foundation for achieving maximum results.
If you’re interested in getting any of the supplements recommended, please stop by Fuse Fitness Coaching. If you’d like to save 20% click here.
Now let’s go lift some weights!