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Is what you eat BEFORE/AFTER heavy workout important?

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I know you're supposed to have quick-absorbing protein (shake w/whey) immediately after a workout. But does anyone have anymore specifics?

I've been doing a 60 minute cardio session with 30 minute weights, and after this i'm usually POOPED. To the point where I'm absolutely depleted! I feel like stocking up on carbs after, but is this recommended? If anyone has any ideas to share for absolute weight loss, it'd be appreciated!! Thanks.

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According to a fitness professional I met with, here are some good pre- and post-workout snacks to increase glucose concentration in the blood, decrease hunger from striking and enhance performance during the workout:


When: 60 mins before exercise

What: High: complex carb: Moderate: protein, fat: Low: simple sugar, fibre, salt, caffeine

How much: 1g carb/kg or body weight + protein source

Total: ~250 cals

EXAMPLES: 1/2 whole grain bagel & 1 tbsp PB; 1/2 cup rice & 1 oz full fat cheese; 1/3 cup raw nut mix & a piece of fresh fruit; 1/2 cup yogurt or cottage cheese & a piece of fresh fruit


When: 15-60 mins after exercise

What: High: simple carb; Moderate: protein, fibre; Low: fat, salt, caffeine

How much: 3:1 ratio of carb:protein

Total: ~300 cals

EXAMPLES: 1 cup chocolate milk & 1/2 bagel with jam; 1 cup fresh juice & 1/2 can tuna on crackers; 1 pita & 1/4 cup hummus; 1 banana, 1/2 cup yogurt & 1/4 cup almonds.

These are only snacks and not meals. A nutritionally balanced meal should follow your snack 2 hours post-workout.
Nutrient timing is a whole book in itself, but the most effective post-workout meal is a protein shake, or a carb/protein shake, containing carbs and protein in a 4:1 ratio.

 Bananas and fruit are fine carb sources post-workout, but there's no protein in them and you definitely need that. Whey protein is preferred for absorbtion speed and convenience.

 You'd want some protein pre-workout as well, for optimal results - the current recommendation for Best Pratice is to have the solid meal 90-120 minutes before your workout, no later. The protein in your food mostly digests in 3 hours, and the whole point of pre-workout nutrition is to have protein available in your system while working out. Therefore, eating more than 2 hours before your workout leaves you without available amino acids in your blood stream at the end of your workout - not good.

 Alternatively, you have a liquid meal in the form of a protein shake 0-30 minutes before starting your workout - I personally feel this is the better option based on David Barr's research, but either way will work.

 Post-workout, a protein shake with moderately fast-acting whey protein taken within 30 minutes of your workout and containing carbs in a 4:1 carb:protein ratio is supposedly ideal for recovery.

 You'd then go on to eat your regularily scheduled meal within 90 minutes of having the protein shake, as whey protein mostly digests that fast.

 As for specifics: Alan recommends
Protein = 0.25g/lb Target Body Weight
Carbs = 0.25g/lb TBW
Protein = 0.25g/lb TBW
Carbs = 0.5g/lb TBW

Calculate your individual needs based on either your lean body mass if you know it, or your target bodyweight if you don't.

 Drink water before your workout, and if you're doing strenuous exercise, also during. Calorie- and carbohydrate-rich sports drinks are mostly a waste of calories unless you're doing endurance workouts lasting longer than 60-90 minutes.

I know this wasn't the point of the thread, but remember to do your weight lifting BEFORE you're cardio.

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To cellophane_star,

Here's a question: you say its best to keep FIBRE and CAFFEINE to low for my pre-workout meal. Why is that?? The reason why I ask is sometimes when I drag myself to the gym early in the morning, I need a bit of coffee to get me going. Is this bad??

And everyone else: wow, thanks! That definitely helps alot.

And to floggingsully,

I always do my weights before cardio. I just feel like it works up more of a sweat (for my cardio)! Is there a scientific reason for why YOU do it?

Ooh, yeah -- why lifting before cardio?  b/c I run 5k, then lift, then cardio.  But running is cardio, too, right?  So wtf?

You get the most overall benefit from the weight training so you want to give it the most energy to use.  Warm up first 5-10 min on what ever your choice, then the work out and then the cardio. 

Muscular glycogen depletion, basically. If you are a college-age male endurance athlete it doesn't much matter for your results, but for the rest of us lifting while fresh makes all the difference in the world. Lifting with good form requires mental drive and focus, and depleting yourself with pre-lifting cardio generally tends to be counterproductive.

  If you take in replacement carbs post-run, wait until insulin spikes because of the carbs and then hit the weights, or fuel yourself with slow-digesting carbs like oats pre-run glycogen depletion becomes less of a factor for the intensity of your workout. Mental focus is a different issue, there's a lot more individual variations in that area of performance, but I wouldn't do any highly technical lifts like cleans or CNS-intensive lifting like squats post-cardio.

 Besides, if you deplete your glycogen stores with heavy lifting and perform your cardio afterwards you'll burn a lot more fat at a given level of exertion than you would by doing things in the reverse order.

Thanks for that explanation Melkor. For years, people have told me to do cardio first, then weights. Luckily, I've been doing it right lately because I usually only have about 5 - 10 minutes to warm up before working with my trainer and then I do the cardio afterwards.

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