How to be a Lean, Keen Eating Machine
Sundays and football. Ohio and gray days. Diet and exercise.
…Some things just go hand in hand.
While what you eat always plays a part in your fitness, the meal you eat before or after a workout can have the most immediate effect on you and your performance. But the world of exercise nutrition can be confusing. When should you eat? What? How?
With something as important as the quality of your workout and recovery on the line, we want to make understanding workout nutrition simple. So we’re breaking it down into two main focus points—Pre vs. Post and the Essential Workout Nutrients—with a little help from Duke Armstrong, cofounder and CEO of workout nutrition company Propello Life.
PRE VS. POST
First things first: the most important part of this question is not when you eat, just that you eat. Beyond that, like many things in the fitness community, there’s no one right side to this argument. Whether it’s better to eat before, after or both will be different person to person, depending on your schedule and the type and length of your workout.
From a biological lens, eating before a workout is beneficial for longer aerobic exercise but not necessarily shorter, while eating after (“fasted exercise”) is shown to have a greater metabolism boost post-workout. But schedule can also be a big deciding factor. For night exercisers, it makes much more sense to have your main meal before your workout. But it’s the exact opposite for early birds, such as Armstrong.
“I bounce back and forth between eating before working out in the mornings and not…If I’m working out first thing in the morning also it helps [if] I don’t have to wake up an hour early to eat. But if I’m working out 8, 9 o’clock [in the morning] or later then yeah it makes sense to eat, go train,” says Armstrong.
One disclaimer: If you’re considering fasted exercise—whether to save time or stay lean—it’s still important to pay attention to how your body feels working out without food. For some, like Armstrong, there may be little difference in performance, but others may find that not eating ruins their workout or recovery. And for those opting to eat before, don’t forget a little snack for after so you can replenish your glycogen…more on that in 3, 2, 1.
ESSENTIAL WORKOUT NUTRIENTS
Whether you’re eating before or after your workout, your meal should have two things in common: Protein and Carbohydrates.
Carbohydrates (glycogen) are the body’s quick-use fuel resource, so they’re critical for energy during your workout. Post-workout eaters should aim to refill their body’s glycogen stores with complex carbs for longer-lasting energy and fullness. For pre-workout eaters, simple is better. The closer to your workout you are, the simpler carbs you’ll want to consume (think, fruits packed with natural, simple sugars).
Next up, protein. Consuming protein around a workout ensures muscle growth and recovery since protein aids in muscle synthesis. As we discussed in our first nutrition post, there are many different sources of protein—from meat to legumes to protein powder (both vegan and whey). One of the (many) reasons we’re proud to carry Propello Life in our gym is that they offer both grass-fed whey protein and vegan protein.
Want some yummy inspiration? Armstrong, an avid morning exerciser, shared the protein smoothie he’s obsessed with right now:
- 8oz of cold brew coffee
- 4oz ounces of oat milk
- 2 scoops of chocolate protein
- Blend together and Enjoy!
Now that you’ve got the playbook, it’s time to up your nutrition game. Look at your schedule, fitness regimen and goals to decide whether you’re in the pre- or post-workout camp, then dig into planning out meals that are packed with healthy carbs and protein.
And this week only, mention this blog to our front desk staff for 15% off any Propello Life product. In addition to their protein powders, Propello also offers a pre-workout that goes easy on the caffeine (say bye to those heart palpitations) and an amazing, recovery-perfect amino acid blend that makes hydration not just easier, but tastier.