November 6, 2015 Zhou Jia

Pre and Post Workout Nutrition

Hard work and healthy eating

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At Prime, we often get asked by new clients on ways to boost performance and results which don’t actually involve any work. Will these fat burning pills shrink my thighs? Probably not, but I’m pretty certain some exercise and a careful diet would do the trick. Will this post workout Muscle Milk give me mountainous biceps? Again, probably not, but I’m sure some hard workouts and nutritious diet will produce the desired effect. Nowadays, seems that the obsession on what you should eat just before and just after a workout is to some extent misplaced. The same foods which are healthy for you before a workout are the same as those healthy for you after a workout, or even on days when you are not training.

The most important things you can do to make sure you get a good workout are a) get a good night’s sleep – that means ideally eight hours of uninterrupted sleep in a dark room; and b) hydrate. Hydration levels have a direct bearing on athletic performance and body metabolism and I would therefore recommend drinking around 500ml of mineral water at least half an hour before your workout so that you are fully hydrated at the start. Drinking too much water just before or during your workout is not helpful – you are unlikely to feel comfortable performing a long set of burpees with buckets of water still sloshing around in your stomach. Best hydrate in advance and then sip small amounts during your workout to replenish.

Some people like the additional benefit of a natural stimulant such as a cup of coffee before a workout – in addition to making you feel more awake, caffeine has the added advantage of mobilizing fats so that they are easier to burn. In moderation, caffeine will not do any harm and may indeed produce some performance and fat-burning benefits. Be careful to read the labels on any ‘pre workout formulas’ which often contain caffeine in prodigious quantities – you may be buzzing for your workout, but also unable to sleep for several days.

The optimal post workout meal for you will depend on your goals. Damaged muscle fibers need protein to recover hence the popularity of the post workout protein shake. For people trying to put on muscle, consuming carbohydrates after a workout is as important if not more important than protein. While the resulting spike in insulin is not helpful for fat reduction, insulin is also a powerful anabolic hormone which stimulates muscle building. However, if your goal is simply to lose weight, you are probably better off just eating normally after a workout and avoid loading the body with additional calories.

Common sense should prevail when deciding what to eat before and after a workout. For elite athletes getting paid thousands of dollars every day to be on top of their game, some additional planning beyond hydrating and sleeping well might be appropriate. For the everyday person trying to lose weight and tone up, nutrition products are just a distraction from focusing on the important stuff – like hard work and healthy eating.