In general, we tend to see professional athletes eating fruit or hydrating during a sporting event.
The food before, during, and after exercise is extremely important because it is considered primarily as the preparation of the body, then rapid filling to continue intense training, and finally replenishing nutrients to the body.
In today’s post, I will focus on treating the importance of eating in these three different moments, trying to give a general idea about what you can eat to improve performance, as well as some tips that will be very useful to improve each time more and get more out of your sessions.
How can we calculate the energy requirement?
The daily energy consumption or requirement for the body to fulfill its basic functions can be calculated using a small formula.
- In women = (1.8 x cm of height) – (4.7 x years of age) + 655 + (9.6 x Kg of body weight)
- In men = (5 x cm of height) – (6.76 x years of age) + 66 + (13.7 x Kg of body weight)
This value must be multiplied with the intensity of the physical activity to be performed:
- A little exercise: BMR x 1.2
- Light exercise: BMR x 1.38
- Moderate: BMR x 1.55
- Intense: BMR x 1.73
- Very intense (training up to twice a day): BMR x 1.9
What to eat before, during and after training?
It is necessary to incorporate quality foods into the diet, mainly carbohydrates, healthy fats, lean proteins and good hydration. For example, during exercise you lose water and electrolytes, so an electrolyte drink is a good option after training.
The feeding in these three stages varies. What is eaten before training determines performance, during ensures continuous and constant muscle function, and after is focused on promoting recovery.
Let’s take a closer look at each of these moments:
What to eat before training: the fuel
This diet focuses on 5 main elements:
- Moderate in carbohydrates and proteins: 1 to 4 grams of carbohydrates are recommended for each kilo of body weight, this taking into account a routine that can be extended for more than one hour. In a diet of 2000 calories a day, it is necessary to consume approximately 300 grams of carbohydrates.
- Adequate hydration.
- Low-fat food (especially avoid saturated fat).
- Avoid fiber.
- Preferably include foods that are known, and of which it is known that our body tolerates them well (we do not want to feel bad before starting a workout).
Foods such as eggs, toast with peanut butter, yogurt, fruits, cereal with milk, oatmeal with skim milk, pasta with vegetables, chicken sandwich are recommended.
These are some of the recommendations for pre-exercise meals. If you are short on time you can also take energy bars, shakes, bananas, etc.
More food examples:
- Cookies and jam of some fruit of preference.
- Fruit, turkey sandwich and low-fat cheese, accompanied by a sports drink.
- Tuna salad with crackers or toast
If you train in the morning, the meal you will eat before training is breakfast. It is essential to have a good breakfast and above all never go to training without having eaten anything before.
Why should we have breakfast before training?
When we exercise before breakfast, we are punishing our body in a way. We must provide the energy that the body needs to face physical activity, and if you train without having eaten before, the body will not have this energy.
But when should we have breakfast if we want to train? This is an interesting question, since eating and exercising in a row can make us feel unwell.
It is advisable to do it at least two hours before and eat calmly.
We can also remember that one of the benefits of a good breakfast is the contribution of the feeling of satiety for a longer time.
How is a proper breakfast composed?
Every good breakfast includes a sufficient amount of carbohydrates, protein, and a small amount of fat. Depending on the type of training we are going to do, we need to adapt the food in the following way:
- To gain muscle mass: for this purpose you need a high calorie diet . A good breakfast is made up of proteins and complex and rapidly absorbed carbohydrates. Consuming more calories than usual creates a good environment for muscle fibers to get stronger and stronger.
- To lose weight or lose fat : in this case, it is necessary to regulate the intake of carbohydrates, which together with the appropriate exercises favors the burning of fat as fuel. Proteins are still important.
- For cardio exercises: cardiovascular exercises demand energy quickly, it is advisable to have breakfast 2 or 3 hours before with complex carbohydrates and one hour before with fast-absorbing carbohydrates.
We can also see it as follows:
- A breakfast with simple and nutritious carbohydrates, which are found in yogurt or a variety of fruits. It is a fast-digesting option, much better than going to the gym without having eaten. This type of breakfast can be consumed up to 30 minutes before going to the gym.
- A breakfast made up of complex carbohydrates and protein. For example, rice, pasta, potato, egg, chicken, meat, etc. This food requires a longer digestion time and is absorbed slowly.
What to eat for breakfast before going to the gym
Take note of the following snacks that are a good energy supply, especially before going to work out in the morning:
- Vegetable juices: highly recommended by nutritionists, as they are a refreshing option and an energy enhancer.
- Foods to avoid muscle cramps: these foods are rich in potassium, magnesium and other electrolytes. They are usually present at breakfasts although we do not know it, for example: sweet potatoes, banana, yogurt, wheat germ, walnuts, etc.
- Avocado: source of vitamins, minerals and healthy fats. A good option to add to a rich salad or some cookies.
- Whole grains
- Fruit smoothies
Example: a glass of orange juice, a banana, a handful of almonds and an omelet. This makes up a complete breakfast, which includes protein, vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, and healthy fats.
- Fiber should be avoided before training, as it stimulates metabolism and can cause stomach upset.
- Drinks are an amazing addition to breakfasts, never a substitute. It is advisable to drink a glass of water, rather than a sports drink in the morning.
- We must define a schedule for breakfast, eating too much just before training can cause cramps or dizziness. In case you are in a rush to the gym in the morning, a brilliant option is having a small snack for breakfast.
What to eat during training
If the training lasts approximately 45 minutes or less, just replace fluids. On the other hand, sessions of more than two hours may require an extra boost of energy, around 30 to 60 grams of carbohydrates per hour.
In this case, energy bars, fruits, juices, sports drinks, any food that is rich in simple carbohydrates and fast absorption are very useful. Liquids are the easiest to digest, so they may be a better alternative.
Water is usually enough to hydrate you, but when it comes to long workouts, sports drinks help more.
- Fruit juice.
- Sports gels or bars.
What to eat after training
It is common to put the maximum effort during a workout, but nevertheless once we finish training it is essential to eat properly.
Post-workout food is essential for muscle recovery and achieving the desired growth. If you want to know what to eat after training so that your body has the necessary nutrients for your muscles to grow, read on.
The importance of eating after a workout
The exercise is a stimulus for the muscle to develop . When you train, you break muscle fibers and then muscle recovery comes, at which point muscle hypertrophy occurs . To understand which are the appropriate foods, you must observe how the body is affected after intense training.
In training, the muscle uses glycogen stores and certain muscle proteins are broken down as well. Therefore, eating carbohydrates and protein after a routine can make the body:
- Quickly restore glycogen stores
- Counteract protein breakdown
- Increase muscle recovery
- In addition to preventing catabolism, it causes the body to increase protein synthesis within the muscle, which favors muscle growth.
- Eliminate toxins more easily
- Replace the fluid that has been lost previously
We can conclude then, that satisfactory muscle building depends on this. Now that we understand its importance, we can move on to talking about the best post-workout foods .
We will look at each of the macronutrients that are involved in post-workout recovery, that is, proteins, carbohydrates and healthy fats:
Proteins: essential for muscle building and recovery
Adequate protein consumption after training guarantees the supply of essential amino acids to accelerate the recovery process of protein degraded during training.
It is advisable to consume approximately 0.4 grams of protein per kilo of body mass. According to various studies, ingesting 20 to 40 grams of protein shortly after an exercise routine significantly maximizes recovery.
The foods that are recommended are:
- Protein bars
Consuming carbohydrates is essential to replenish muscle glycogen stores. The recommended consumption of this macronutrient is 1 to 1.5 grams per kilo of body weight. At this point hormones such as insulin participate, which promotes the formation of glycogen and is stimulated by consuming proteins and carbohydrates together .
High carbohydrate foods:
Many people think that fats make digestion difficult and only hinder the absorption of nutrients. However, several studies have shown that they do not reduce the benefits of other foods, so it is not such a far-fetched idea to incorporate a little fat into your post-workout meal.
Some healthy fats:
- Nuts and dried fruits
Some recommended dishes to taste after training
Combining the foods we mentioned a moment ago, we can make a small list of delicious and easy-to-prepare foods and drinks:
- Some cookies with tuna are a quick snack for after an intense routine, where we don’t want to cook
- Roasted vegetables with grilled chicken
- A protein shake and a banana can be a very practical option
- Egg omelette, toast and avocado
- Cereal with milk
- Pineapple Smoothie
- The protein-carbohydrate ratio should be 1: 3.
- Hydration is essential before and after training, as it maximizes results.
- Ideally, eat 30 to 45 minutes after training, or if this is not possible, try not to exceed two hours.
- A trick to be able to eat immediately is to take a protein bar, nuts or a cereal bar with you. In this way at the end of the exercise session we can quickly provide nutrients.
- We must avoid certain foods, mainly fatty foods in excess. Exercising does not mean that we have the freedom to eat whatever we want.
- We must always keep in mind that post-workout nutrition is as important as pre-workout.
In this post you have seen the importance of a good diet both before and after, and during the training itself. Apply the advice that I have given you in this article and you will see how the energy you have increases while you train and how the results you get improve.