To Eat or Not to Eat: Before, During and/or After Exercise

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As we all should understand, it is not how hard you train but how well you eat that will yield the best results. We have seen those who work out seven days a week for a daunting three-hour workout only to look frail and weak and have no muscle tone and sagging skin.

Why? Not having proper eating habits. Then we see those who train three to four times a week for maybe an hour, and with a clean and well-balanced eating plan they look fantastic. So I really appreciate information regarding proper nutrition before, during and after the workout.

Having a high-carbohydrate, low-protein/low-fat meal before the workout will help you not feel bloated or weighed down for the workout, having low energy or low focus. The pre-workout meal is best made up of carbohydrates that rate a low on the G.I. scale, in most cases. Not all foods work the same with all people.

Including a carbohydrate in the meal ensures the client will have enough sustained energy to work through the workout. If the workout lasts longer than 60 minutes one should add a variety of low to high G.I. carbohydrate; again everybody reacts differently. Some may have a big drop in blood sugar and lose drive if a high G.I. carbohydrate is used. In most cases, if a high G.I. carbohydrate is taken 5 to 10 minutes before exercise, the insulin secretion will be halted with the start of exercise and you should be okay. Having a good carbohydrate-balanced meal pre-workout will ensure a level of energy to help you finish your workout and keep energy/fluid balance in check.

The pre-workout meal could be 15-60 minutes before the workout and would ensure adequate energy supplies to the client.

During the workout itself, energy is needed to keep training intensity levels up. With all moderate to hard workouts, fluid is lost, making it important to balance the carbohydrate and fluid amounts retained in the system. A safe calculation to ensure a proper balance would be .5 grams of carbohydrates per 1 lb of body weight during a workout that lasts longer than 60 minutes.

Since carbohydrates are vital for energy levels, we need to make sure we have some type of carbohydrate coming in. Sport drinks, fruits, sport bars, etc., along with water are good.

Post-workout meal, depending on the level of exercise intensity, should be to replenish fluids and restore glycogen. Eat within 15 minutes of finishing the workout, carbohydrate-rich foods, sport drinks and foods high in water, such as fruits. Non-diet sodas, even though they have basically zero nutrients or vitamins, are a carbohydrate source.

Eat about 300 calories rich in carbohydrates with a bit of protein every two hours for the next six to eight hours if you are training hard, multiple times per day.

Let’s not forget muscle. Protein is needed for muscular growth and cellular repair. Fifteen percent of daily calories from protein would be sufficient.

Good workouts come from focus, good mental energy and sustained energy levels. A good pre-, during and post-workout meal ensures that.

Ed White has worked in the fitness industry for over 22 years and is a certified personal trainer. He has complemented his love of personal training with 12 years’ experience in spine care in the field of physical therapy and three years as administrator for a medical clinic. Ed has a record of success in teaching people how to properly care for their body through exercise and proper nutrition.

is a certified personal trainer who has worked in the fitness industry for more than 22 years. He has 12 years’ experience in spine care in physical therapy and three years as a medical clinic administrator. He owns EveryDay Fitness on Athens Avenue in Redding, and can be reached at 530-246-1902 or at his website,
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