Good nutrition and exercise are complement one another. If your nutrition isn’t dialed-in, it can make your workouts really hard or simply ineffective. You obviously want to get the most from your efforts, so here are a few easy nutrition tweaks to help you get a better workout.
When you eat can be just as important as what you eat. Avoid heavy or fatty meals before you exercise. Fat slows digestion, making you feel heavy and bloated during your workout. Also, avoid foods high in fiber right before you get moving, especially if there won’t be a bathroom readily available.
Depending on the timing of your workout, you should aim to eat a full meal at least three to four hours before (although this obviously won’t apply if you are exercising first thing in the morning). If it’s been four hours since your last meal, try to eat balanced snack, including carbohydrate and protein, before you work out. An apple with a bit of peanut butter is a good example. TriFuel is another great option as it has the perfect mix of protein and carbs to maximize your workout.
You probably know that in order to build muscle, your body needs adequate protein, but it can only absorb so much at one time. A 2009 study found that there was no difference in muscle synthesis from eating 4 ounces versus 12 ounces of protein at one meal. So increasing your protein won’t impact how much muscle your body will make after a workout.
To maximize your muscle-building results, spread your protein out throughout the day. Aim for 4 to 6 ounces (or 30 to 40 grams) per meal, depending on your calorie needs. Remember, even if the calories are coming from protein, excess calories will be stored as fat.
Branched-chain amino acids, or BCAAs, have been found to activate the enzymes needed to build muscle after workouts. They can also help speed up recovery, so they are an important part of any exercise program.
BCAAs can be found in any high-quality source of protein, like chicken, eggs, fish and even soy. Or you can get them from a that has been formulated to include a higher quantity of these important amino acids.
Carbohydrates are not evil and are not the cause of weight gain, as popular media would have you believe. The reason is that not all carbs are created equal. There are so many carbs that are incredibly healthy and great for providing energy during workouts.
Instead of limiting carbohydrates, focus on foods that are high in fiber (also a source of carbs), such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains. These carb options will give you energy to get through your workout without losing steam. One caveat: Avoid carbs that are TOO high in fiber right before a workout, as they can cause digestive discomfort while exercising. The way the body reacts to high fiber and high carbohydrate foods before exercise varies, so you will need to experiment to figure out what works for you.
With any workout or training program, don’t neglect your diet. Just a few simple nutrition tweaks can support your training efforts and speed up your recovery, so you can get back out there as soon as possible.
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