Peri-Workout Nutrition and How It Can Increase Performance
We all understand the importance of eating for performance, such as having an appropriate macronutrient split, not simply binge eating to be in a caloric surplus and not starving one’s self in order to facilitate a caloric deficit. What some do not understand is that the timing of your food in accordance with factors such as training, sleep and periods of moderate NEAT (Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis) activity can significantly increase athletic performance if understood and executed correctly. By far one of the most important tools in one’s arsenal when it comes to optimising performance is nailing peri- workout (peri-workout being the time around the workout e.g. before/during/after) nutrition.
Peri-workout and Pre-workout
It is advisable to ensure you find an easily digested carbohydrate source when considering your pre-workout meal as this will limit gastrointestinal (GI) inflammation and reduce bloating. Items such as white starchy carbs e.g. rice, pasta, bread etc are always good and easy for the digestive system to process in most cases, the amount of carbohydrates you would want to get from this meal would average at around 50-75g, however this is subjective to the individual’s weight, goals and training experience. There should also be a small serving of protein in this meal, however not too much to limit GI stress and mitigate inflammation, typically anywhere between 20-40g should be enough, although the upper limit of this suggestion is for those with significant muscle mass as it is unlikely that someone of smaller muscular stature would be able to process this amount efficiently let alone require it. Fats can also be included in a pre-workout meal however these should be unsaturated fats such as peanut butter or avocado as opposed to saturated fats such as burgers etc, as this will likely cause some form of GI stress, it would be unwise to exceed 10-15g of fat in the pre- workout meal for reasons stated above. Finally, the timing between the pre-workout meal and the actual workout is subjective to the individual’s digestive capabilities, typically anywhere between 45-90 minutes is sufficient to allow for successful nutrient partitioning prior to exercise.
Peri-workout and Intra workout
Intra workout nutrition, if done correctly has been linked strongly with an increase in overall workout performance, there are a few things that one should be utilising and luckily they can all be added to water, these include:
- Sodium- Helps regulate fluid levels in the body
- Electrolytes- To aid hydration
- Carbohydrate powder- Preferably highly branched cyclic dextrin (HBCD) as this will be easily assimilated by the working muscles with little to no gastrointestinal stress, or if you’re on a budget, dextrose typically works fine however you do run the risk of getting some GI stress from this. Typically with these powders the recommended intra workout dose can range anywhere between 30-60g of carbohydrates from either.
Peri-workout and Post workout
Very similar to the pre workout meal, the post workout meal is also essential in order for efficient recovery, usually between 30 minutes to an hour after ones workout it would be advisable to have a substantial meal with a balance of nutrients in favour to that of carbohydrates and protein. In this meal it is actually better to over-eat slightly as opposed to under eating so long as the macronutrients are acquired through whole sources and not junk food, e.g. chicken/beef with pasta and sauce etc. Some people prefer to have their post workout meal blended, this would be advisable if you’re like myself and struggle with an appetite immediately after a workout. Typically it is best to have a significant serving of protein post workout as your body will need a sufficient spike in muscle protein synthesis in order to recover efficiently after training, on average this should range somewhere between about 25-50g depending on factors such as gender, weight etc. As far as carbohydrates are concerned this should be just as significant in order to restore lost cell glycogen, anywhere between 50-150g again depending on weight, gender etc. Finally, fats should again be a small serving post workout however a little higher to that in your pre workout meal, ensuring these come from healthy unsaturated sources such as avocado, this should range anywhere between 15-35g again subjective to the factors previously mentioned.
By Tireoghain O’Neill
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