Pre, During, and Post Workout Nutrition
Pre, During and Post Workout Nutrition is a very important aspect of nutrition of every athlete or anybody wanting to eat healthy, lose fat, build muscle, become and stay fit. On the other hand, people tend to give too much attention to PWM (post-workout meal) shakes, instead of trying to see the 'big picture'. We will try to explain few things about this topic and we know from the start - there will always be people that will disagree with us ...
Published: February 8, 2016.
Workout is stress for the body. When we load the bar and lift it, we are stressing the muscles, joints, bones, and CNS (Central Nerv System). To help the body recover from stress, we have to replenish what we have spent and provide the body with nutrients that will help in regeneration.
If you are on a strict diet, your lifting will suffer in both reps and strengths. Carbs do wonders to strength and stamina (even if you are on a keto diet, carbs loading is best on training day and vice versa). What do we do then? We trick the body with proper nutrition before, during, and after the workout.
Fast carbs should be consumed in the PWM (post-workout meal) with whey protein and other supplements. It is good to provoke insulin after exercise and feed the muscles (and fat cells :o)) – muscle recovery after exercise wins here. But, it happens ONLY after exercise. If you train 3 times per week and eat 6 meals a day (PWM being the 7th meal somewhere during the day and never the last meal of the day), that means that you eat 42 insulin non-provoking and only 3 insulin-provoking meals a week.
But if you don't work out with intensity and volume as before, you will not send a signal to your body that you want it to keep all of the muscles and lose fat.
An example of nutrition on training day would be:
- some 2 hours before workout some complex carbs and protein, for example, whole-wheat pasta/veggies and fish/meat. Endomorphs should avoid even whole wheat pasta and eat only veggies with fish/meat.
- some 15 minutes before workout some liquid meal or supplement. The liquid meal would be one scoop of whey (based rather on whey concentrate then hydrolyzed whey; add some BCAA if possible) with some guarana, or supplement such as Labrada SuperCharge or Dymatize Xpand Xtreme Pump.
- Between 15th and 30th minutes of workout, drink slowly shake consisting of one scoop of whey and maybe 10g of glucose (dextrose); add some powdered BCAA if possible
- After workout drink proper PWM shake – one to two scoops of whey, 50-100g of glucose (dextrose), creatine, glutamine, BCAA, C vitamin - whey protein should be in the range of 0.4-0.5 g/kg and fast carbs should be in the range of 0.6-1.0 g/kg, but this also depends on one's diet, eating habits, etc. Homemade post-workout shake is at least just as good as all-in-one post-workout shake supplements sold by many supplement companies.
- some 1 - 1.5 hour after last shake eat meal similar to last solid meal before workout – complex carbs with protein
To see actual pre, during, and post-workout shake recipes, please check Making Pre, During and Post Workout Shakes recipes page.
Is this all necessary? Not all, but both solid meals are simply MUST eat meals, with shake after workout (post-workout meal - PWM) highly recommendable.
If you don't drink PWM then eat the first solid meal after a workout as soon as possible. With time passed, you will learn enough of proper nutrition, and you will be able to decide what is best for you in what situation – getting rid of the fat, peeking strength, putting on some muscle mass.
Some people don't like meals right before and during workouts – if you are one of them, then – don't take them. If possible, try to take before the workout only one or even half of the scoop of whey without much water.
Also, during workouts, drink your whey in small sips followed with small sips of water - this way, you should not feel bloated because of too much liquid in the stomach.
This liquid in the stomach can make people sluggish, not the 'fact' (or should I say 'myth'?) that blood from muscles was diverted to the stomach because of digestion - your stomach can't and will not suck the blood from the rest of your body because you have few deciliters of liquid in it!
Whey absorption depends on the quality of whey - generally, the amount of amino acids in the bloodstream will peak after 40 - 80 minutes. The purpose of these meals is:
- last solid meal before a workout will feed muscles with carbs and will give a more or less steady flow of nutrients in the bloodstream. But after two hours of eating this meal, levels of protein and carbs can start to decline.
- 15 minutes before workout - Nitric Oxide supplement will give athlete additional strength and stamina (this kind of supplement is taken without scoop of whey). If we drink a scoop of whey with some guarana (so, no Nitric Oxide), whey will start to digest and cancel the drop of amino acid levels in the bloodstream. Glycogen levels in muscles and liver are more or less ok - if we are on a strict diet, it is normal to have lover glycogen levels than when on mass cycle.
- 15 - 30 minutes after workout started - slow sips of scoop of whey - they cancel possible drop of amino acids in blood due to exercise
- after workout - PWM feeds the body with fast carbs and whey - they elevate insulin which is one of the most anabolic human hormones and helps feed the muscles with nutrients
- first solid meal after a workout provides the body with a steady flow of nutrients after PWM and doesn't allow blood sugar level to fall suddenly. Again, if you don't drink PWM, eat this meal as soon as possible. And feel free to add some fast carbs (pasta, rice).
After having all these meals - dieting as usual till the next workout.
If you have problems making your first after workout solid meal, check our Recipes pages - there are many meals that require almost no or very little cooking experience and they represent not only great post-workout meals but also meals good for the daily nutrition of every athlete - with emphasis on 'clean eating' with just a few cheat meals. We are all human, after all. :o)
Note: C vitamin and Post Workout Nutrition
Lately, there were several studies showing that large(r) amounts of C vitamin with or without NAC (N-Acetyl-Cysteine) in PWM shakes are not good. They say that right after exercises, not only that they are not beneficial, but that they increase the number of free radicals and that they slow down regeneration, etc.
These studies are in contrast with previous studies telling us that vitamin C and NAC are good right after exercise. Go figure ...
Anyway, these new studies were using around 15 mg/kg of C vitamin (mg of C vitamin per kg of human body) and around 10 mg/kg of NAC. So for 100 kg athlete, that would be around 1500 mg of C vitamin and 1000mg of NAC right after exercise.
Now, what to do? After years of taking 1-2g of C vitamin in PWM shakes, people have started to avoid it entirely in PWM shakes. I take my usual dose of 1-2 mg/kg of C vitamin in my PWM shake and I try to have C vitamin and all other vitamins from natural sources...