Pre And Post Meals: Bookend Your Workouts The Smart Way!
My training and education company, Performance University, has become recognized around the world for innovative hybrid strength and conditioning programs that deliver fast results in the gym and on the field. But the problem is that getting results, particularly ones you can see in the mirror, requires as much careful attention to nutrition and supplementation as it does to training.
What you eat and when you eat it can increase or decrease the effectiveness of your workout program, regardless of how well it's designed. Recovery, anabolism and results depend on two key meals: post-workout and pre-workout.
Settle in and learn a thing or two about workout nutrition and workout supplementation guidelines we use at Performance University to help our clients and athletes maximize their size, strength and fat-loss results.
If you're like one of my clients and want the absolute best results from the time and effort you commit to your training, this article has your name on it.
Move Over Breakfast And Dinner
The stigma that breakfast and dinner are the most important meals of the day isn't entirely accurate. Although they are indeed important, the latest science on nutrient timing shows us how important pre and post-workout meals really are.
One study sought to measure the effects of supplementation during the pre- and post-training "windows" against supplementation effects from supplementing at breakfast and dinner, over the course of a 10-week program. Two study groups were fed 32 grams of protein, 34.4 grams of carbs, less than .4 grams of fat, and 5.6 grams of Creatine Monohydrate per day.
The control group consumed the above nutrient ratio over two meals (one at breakfast and one in the evening), while the other group consumed the nutrients directly before and after strength training. What were the findings?
- Pre and post-workout supplementation demonstrated a greater increase in lean body mass and 1Rep Max strength.
- The changes in body composition from pre/post-workout supplementation were supported by a greater increase in cross-sectional areas of the type II muscle fibers and contractile protein content.
- Pre/post-workout supplementation also resulted in higher muscle creatine and glycogen levels after the training program.
- The study concluded, "Supplement timing represents a simple but effective strategy that enhances the adaptations desired from resistance training."
So let's go over how to glean every last result from your workouts with proper training supplementation.
Supplementing for Size and Strength
Within 2-to-3 hours before your workout, I recommend consuming the following:
- 30-to-40 grams of a slow-digesting carbohydrate: like whole-wheat bread, yams, wild rice, beans, red potatoes and/or fruits.
Slow-digesting carbs produce a relatively slow increase in blood glucose and a modest insulin release in response. They are more natural carbs that aren't made in a food-processing plant.
- A lean protein like chicken breast or fish fillet, low in saturated fat.
- A fibrous carb source like vegetables. Salads are a great pre-workout food, and they can keep blood vessels dilated to increase blood and oxygen flow to the muscles.
Here's what I recommend consuming within 30 minutes of completing your workout for maximum muscle gains:
- Consume a fast-acting protein shake with whey protein or even better, a combination protein shake with whey and casein. Why? A study on protein digestion and retention showed that a slow-absorbing protein like casein is superior to whey in promoting protein accretion over a 7-hour time frame.
In other words, whey is a great fast-absorbing protein for recovery and fuel, but ingest some casein for added results. Get short-term AND long-term results!
- Consume a fast-digesting (high-glycemic) carbohydrate drink.
- Get plenty of BCAAs!
The Supplementation Formula For Fat Loss
To cut down fat without compromising muscle, consume the following 2-to-3 hours before training:
- A lean protein source like chicken breast or fish.
- A fibrous carbohydrate source like salad.
- A piece of fruit (preferably lower-glycemic sources like berries).
30-to-60 minutes before training, consume:
- 100-to-400 milligrams of caffeine (sources include coffee or supplementation).
- 20 grams of a fast-digesting protein like whey protein.
- 20-to-40 grams of a slow-digesting carbohydrate like berries (optional).
- 1 serving of BCAAs.
- 5 grams of Creatine Monohydrate.
- 1-to-3 grams of Beta Alanine.
For fat loss, I recommend consuming the same things as a muscle building post-workout within 30 minutes of finishing a workout, minus the carbs:
- Consume a fast acting protein shake with whey or a combination of whey with casein.
- 1 Serving of BCAAs
Why no carbs post workout? Will you lose your hard-earned muscle?
Nope, and I'll tell you why. A recent study showed that the pre and post-workout ingestion of dietary protein is superior to an equal amount of carbohydrate ingestion, concluding, "From the standpoint of gaining skeletal muscle mass, evidently consuming carbohydrates is not necessary."
So there you have it. Stay true to pre and post-workout supplementation, and you'll stay on track toward major muscle or lean and mean!
- Effects of supplement timing and resistance exercise on skeletal muscle hypertrophy. Published in Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2006 Nov; 38 (11): 1918-25.
- Dunnett M., R. C. Harris. Influence of oral beta-alanine and L-histidine supplementation on the carnosine content of the gluteus medius. Equine Vet J. 30(Suppl): 499-504, 1999.
- Harris R. C. Muscle carnosine elevation with supplementation and training, and the effects of elevation on exercise performance. (Presented at the International Society of Sports Nutrition Annual Conference, 2005, New Orleans).
- Hill C. A., R. C. Harris, H. J. Kim, L. Boobis, C. Sale, J. A. Wise. The effect of beta-alanine and creatine monohydrate supplementation on muscle composition and exercise performance. (Presented at the American College of Sports Medicine Annual Conference, 2005, Nashville.)
- Stout J. R., J. O'Kroy, M. Mielke, R. Zoeller, D. Torok, J.T. Cramer, and B. S. Graves. Effects of 28 days of beta-alanine and creatine monohydrate supplementation on physical working capacity at neuromuscular fatigue threshold. (Presented at the International Society of Sports Nutrition Annual Conference, 2005, New Orleans.).
- Nutrient Administration and Resistance Training - J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2005; 2(1): 50-67.
- Boirie Y, et al. Slow and fast dietary proteins differently modulate postprandial protein accretion. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 1997 Dec 23; 94(26):14930
- Follow This Discussion by:
Hello Steve and everyone,
I am new to muscle building and I want to make sure I get it right.
I have been told by a friend that the post-exercise snack/shake/bar should be taken IMMEDIATELY after exercise and SHOULD consist of relatively high sugary and high fibre carbohydrate dose to replenish blood sugar levels and thus get the insulin spike you need to put your body in anabolic state and the fibre should help with protein absorption by the muscle.
He said complex carbs should be taken pre-workout and throughout the day (NOT post-workout).
He suggested a can of tuna AND a bar with this nutrients immediately post-work out:
Carbohydrate 16.5g (of which sugars 15.8g)
On the products web page it also says that it is highly recommended to be taken post work out and it's proven to help muscle growth due to carb and protein ratio combination. I don't know if product links are allowed but this is the bar that has been highly recommended to me post workout (http://www.hollandandbarrett.com/pages/product_detail.asp?pid=3452
Great article. I do close to that now but I find that protein shakes make me bloated and fat. I get no results from them. Food gives me results. I would rather eat a chicken breast or a good protein bar after a workout than a shake. How much (grams) protein can you utilize in one meal?
That depends on your body weight. I have heard from .4 to 1g per lb. And what your body can utilize is something like 32 grams per serving? You should be able to search through protein topics here and find that answer. Or google try looking for "Protein Intake per Serving"
I like the article, however I have heard that taking a whey and casein protein together does not result in some fast acting and some slow acting protein. Instead, the casein creates a gel like substance when ingested (which is why it is slower acting), and this in turn will force the fast acting whey to act like casein since it is stuck in your gut with the casein.
What is the correct information here?
Great info. The battle I have is that I workout at 6am, so can only get pre-workout food into me about an hour before (well I could get it 2-3 hours but I am not willing to get up at 4am).
Currently I just have a protein shake, but I might start adding some berries to that.
That's the problem Im having is the early *** workout. I know I need to eat but if I eat too much I get wicked side stitches and if I don't eat I run out of energy mid workout! HELP!!
Need a balance!