It’s no good approaching a workout feeling hungry or lacking in energy. Whilst exercise can energise you, it won’t work if you start off feeling tired. To get a great start eat the right things beforehand.
The basic building blocks of muscles are called amino acids, and these are found in protein rich foods. The best quality of protein that contains the most amino acids is in eggs, but meat, fish, dairy products and soya all contain good quality protein.
If you’re working out on a regular basis or want to become leaner you need to be eating around 1.5g to 2g of lean protein per kilogram of your body weight per day and this is one of the reasons that protein shakes are so popular as they are an easy and convenient way to take in protein without having to chow down all the time.
To be able to power and also fuel your way through your workouts you also need carbohydrates. You’re looking for two different types of carbs:
- Slow release low GI (glycaemic index)
- Quick release carbs, high GI.
Try to get most of your carb intake throughout the day from a low GI source as in wholemeal foods, but after a workout you’ll find that a high carbs mixed with protein in the form of a shake is the quickest and easiest way to replenish empty muscles.
Timing is everything and the sooner you down your combined protein and carb shake after a workout the better. Your body is crying out for nutrients immediately after a workout and is also at its most receptive and try to eat a nice balanced meal about two to three hours after your workout to help the building and ‘leaning-out’ phase.
Just because you’re working out hard and regularly doesn’t give you an excuse to eat all and everything as it’s counterproductive to take in empty calories. Ditch the junk as every excess empty calorie will trigger a hormonal response of insulin and take it straight to your fat stores.
Try to avoid having a truly empty stomach as the energy stored in your muscles and liver as glycogen burns off after about 45 minutes of intense exercise and it’s looking for fuel sources. Body fat is hard to break down so your body will go to your hard earned lean muscle tissue for fuel first, that’s why it’s so important to fuel up before and after your workouts as this will preserve your muscle (your lean tissue) and help to burn fat!