Pre and Post Training Nutrition

Recently there have been a few of you asking about what to eat before and after training, so here are some guidelines:

Your body uses two primary energy sources: Fat and Sugar (Carbohydrate *).

  • • Fat (ideally **) fuels low intensity activity e.g. what we spend most of our daily life doing.
  • • Carbohydrate fuels high intensity activity e.g. most of what we do in the gym.

* During digestion most carbohydrate is broken down into sugar.
** If sugar is present your body will use this before fat. If there is an excess of sugar it will be turned to fat and stored.

THE BASICS OF FOOD COMBINING:

When deciding what to combine in a meal or snack here are some simple rules:

  • • Carbs with Fat makes you fat. ***
  • • Carbs with Protein post-training.
  • • Fat and / or Protein pre-training

PRE TRAINING:

Before training and generally during the first part of the day, eat mainly protein and fat. e.g.

  • • BULLETPROOF COFFEE
  • • EGGS, MEAT, FISH
  • • SEEDS AND NUTS
  • • SALADS & LEAFY VEGETABLES
  • • AVOCADOS, OLIVE OIL, COCONUT
  • • ANOTHER BULLETPROOF COFFEE

Avoid carbs if you want to avoid the post carb crash.

If you are regularly eat carbs like cereals, bread, fruit (in other words you are a sugar burner) it may take a couple of weeks to adjust to living off fat and protein for the majority of the day. Some people get headaches or low energy, that’s just the demons leaving the body. It will pass.

Caffeine

The research on whether caffeine actually improves performance is mixed but many people find it gives them an energy boost. Personally I don’t use it every time I train, but I find it useful now and again.

POST TRAINING

If you have done some martial arts, a high volume of lifting, kettlebells or general high intensity training, get some quick releasing carbs and protein in straight after.

e.g. BANANA, WHEY PROTEIN

When choosing a protein supplement try to find one that has been processed as little as possible and contains no additives. Pink Sun is a good choice.

Rehydration

If you have been sweating a lot it is a good idea to eat or drink a pinch of unrefined salt. The minerals in unrefined salt help your cells absorb water. As you have just sweated out a lot of salt, if you don’t replace it your body will not retain as efficiently any fluids you put in.

Post Training Meals

Within an hour or two eat a meal consisting of mainly carbohydrate and protein plus some salad or leafy vegetables.

  • • best sources of protein: MEAT, FISH, EGGS
  • • best sources of carbohydrate: STARCHY VEG: SWEET POTATO, YAM, PLANTAIN, CASSAVA (these are also very high in vitamins)
  • • less good but ok carbohydrate: WHITE POTATO (less vitamins)
  • • even less good carbohydrate but still acceptable occasionally: WHITE RICE, RICE NOODLES (pure starch, no other nutrients)
  • • don’t even think about it: BREAD, PASTA, OTHER WHEAT FLOUR PRODUCTS (don’t get me started)

During the ‘post training window’ (1-2 hours) carbs are quickly absorbed into the muscles (i.e. less likely to be converted to fat). Evening carbs also improve sleep quality and thus improve recovery. Contrary to popular belief, studies have shown that restricting your carbs to late in the day is more effective than restricting carbs to earlier in the day for fat loss.

How much protein and carbohydrate you need is quite individual and depends on how much work you have done.

  • • More energy expended = more carbs.
  • • More muscle breakdown = more protein.

Beef stew and mashed plantains:

beef stew and mashed plantain

Post-training is the best time to include some carbs in your meal. They taste even better when you’ve earned them.

*** How to hack the ‘Carbs and Fat’ rule

We are hard wired to enjoy the combination of fat and carbohydrate as an evolutionary survival mechanism. Carbohydrate raises insulin, a storage hormone, which helps circulating fat stick to your ribs. In the next post I’ll provide some ideas for how to hack the ‘Carbs and Fat’ rule.