Updated: Jan 21, 2020
The time before and after your workout presents a unique opportunity to maximize the benefits of exercise. Here you'll find some easy to implement strategies that will give you an edge!
Everyone has a different schedule so what is ideal for one person is not for another. Fortunately, when it comes to meal timing there are some simple strategies we can all use when scheduling our meals for the day. These are general guidelines which can help improve performance or body composition but daily caloric total matters far more. Before implementing the strategies I’m going to outline, make sure you’re eating enough protein, vegetables, and complex carbohydrates. Once you have that set, then go ahead and practice optimizing your meal timing protocol!
The ideal breakdown of your breakfast will depend on how close it is to your training time. For now we’ll separate it into two options, if you train in the morning or evening.
Morning trainees: Low fat, high carb, moderate protein. What does this look like? 1 whole egg, 6 egg whites, a serving of oatmeal, and a banana. Another option could be a super shake filled with fruits, unsweetened almond milk, 2 scoops of protein powder. The portions will all depend on your individual macro needs but the ratios will be the same.
Evening trainees: Breakfast should be higher in fat than most meals, low in carbs, and moderate protein. An example would be 3 whole eggs, turkey bacon, and a high fiber wrap. Another option would be a shake made with unsweetened almond milk, 2 scoops of protein, and a serving of almond butter. The portions will all depend on your individual macro needs but the ratios will be the same.
Why the difference? We want to maximize the availability of carbs for the morning training session so it provides fuel for those workouts. We keep fats low as they will slow digestion and can even keep you feeling too full through your workouts. For the evening trainee, we want them to save those carbs for pre and post workout. The fats in the beginning of the day will give them a steady energy source to get through the day and get their metabolism going.
As described above, we are looking to maximize the availability of carbs around your training time. Pre and post-workout meals will look very similar as their make ups will be the same (low fat, high carbs, moderate protein). We are looking to not only fuel your workouts but kickstart recovery the moment you’re finished. Protein and carbs will take care of this. An example of an ideal pre/post-workout meal would be a 1-2 servings of chicken breast, 1 serving of leafy greens, and 1 serving of sweet potato. Another option could be 1 serving of lean ground turkey, 1 serving of black beans, and a serving of brown rice. These meals will be similar in their macronutrient breakdown and provide the same benefits.
THE REST OF YOUR DAY
The rest of your meals are to be decided by how much macros you have left and how balanced your other meals were. If you ate high fat during the day then you’ll likely want to stay lower later on in the day. Think of your food as a budget made up of 30% fat, 35% carbs, and 35% protein. This is a good start for some but depending on your goals only a nutrition coach can help you find your ideal macronutrient breakdown. Also, don’t assume you have to eat chicken or oatmeal. If you rather have tuna and whole grain toast, those are viable options as well. What we are looking for is a similar macro breakdown.
No matter what your health goal is, you can benefit from implementing the strategies we outlined above. The extra energy gained pre-workout will lead to a better and stronger workout. A better workout will lead to better results. It doesn’t matter if you’re chasing a sick leg pump or a new PR in a benchmark CrossFit workout. The goals are the same, GET BETTER! So plan ahead, eat, and perform better than ever!