The issue of pre workout nutrition and post workout nutrition was discussed for a long time in research studies, forums, blogs and many other media sources, so frankly, even if you are trying to look for the ultimate answer, there are plenty of mixed opinions.
In all these years of experimenting with different protocols when speaking of pre and post workout nutrition, trying everything that I could find on the internet and experimenting with research studies, I came to the conclusion that:
Yes, you heard me right.. when we talk about pre and post exercise nutrition, almost any kind of protocol that can make you feel prepared for the workout works.
I’ve heard plenty of suggestions that you should eat a certain amount of protein/carbs pre workout and also take advantage of the “post workout nutrition door” because that’s when insulin sensitivity is higher in your body so nutrients will be assimilated faster.. but in the end: ANY PROTOCOL WORKS
Common Nonsense Advice
First, let’s define pre workout nutrition: everything you eat 1-4 hours before a workout and this meal should prepare you for the actual workout by ensuring adequate levels of liver and muscle glycogen and also a good level of blood glucose.
During Workout nutrition: self explanatory
Post workout nutrition: everything you eat right or closely after your weight training routine
While there are plenty of research studies done on endurance and power/strength athletes with a greater deal of them done in the endurance industry, the recommendations vary from study to study and there is no definitive answer to this question that can be found today.
I won’t go into all of the research studies on this matter because it’s pointless and the conclusion would be the same but just as an example, here are some research studies on pre and post workout nutrition:
Pre Workout Examples Of Research Studies:
- Carbohydrates are important for the regulation of blood glucose pre workout – link
- Consuming 0.5 g/lb of carbohydrates before and every 10 minutes during workout reduced the decrease in muscle glycogen – link
- Consuming a supplement with 0.2 g/lb whey protein and 0.20 g/lb of desctrose + .0.3 g/lb creatine before and after training – link
Post Workout Examples Of Research Studies
- Improved glycogen synthesis in cyclists after a 2 hour run, they received 112 g of carbs and 40 grams of protein – link
- Consuming protein and carbohydrates post exercise favorably impacts the anabolic hormone levels – link
- Recommending a quality protein with quantities like 0.4-0.5 g/kg pre and post workout as a relatively safe option for everyone. – link
I want to note that most of the studies were done on subjects that were fasted (they didn’t eat anything, and just trained) after which the researchers administrated them certain combinations of nutrients to watch their response.
The thing is that pre and post workout nutrition is not an exact science that can be accurately quantified for every individual but we can make a good idea on how we should tackle with this issue based on all the studies, real world experience, common sense and results.
Also, there are plenty of questions unanswered regarding pre workout nutrition and post workout nutrition and they will probably stay like this for a long time.
Questions like “is post workout nutrition needed if the person is consuming an adequate pre workout meal?”, “Is consumption of nutrients during training better than pre or post workout?” and many other.
Because most of us train in a fed state (with the exception of some people that like to train fasted – NOTE: I would recommend 10-15 g of BCAA if you are trying to train fasted), the post workout meal timing doesn’t matter.
I mean this is not an exact science and no one can make it one.
While I don’t say that nutrient timing can’t possibly help, the most important fact at the end of the day is total daily caloric intake.
Try to hit your daily caloric intake and train with a good training program and you should be fine.
The final no bs answer is that you can pretty much eat anything you want, get a nicely mixed meal 1-4 hours before workout and experiment to see what’s better for you.
For me, the picture to the right does a good job in explaining a nice pre workout meal 2 hours before I train.
For example if you are consuming a high carbohydrate meal 1 hour before workout and you feel like a crashed car, you can reduce the carbohydrate content of the next pre workout meal or eat it 2,3,4 hours before workout.
Just make sure that you hit your daily caloric requirements and experiment!
After getting my macro’s as needed, I always take supplements that are proven to work by research and use them in my pre workout nutrition.
What’s your current pre or post workout meal setup and what works the best for you?