These days it seems that diet and exercise has become extremely complicated. New supplements, diets and miracle weight loss products pop up on our shelves and social media feeds what feels like every week.
Sometimes I find myself reading about the latest trend and thinking ‘wow, how can people be so naïve, clearly that will not work.’ When, in reality, people are not naïve at all. People are confused by all the information or, misinformation out there and will try anything to get them one step closer to that goal they are so desperate to reach.
Well, it’s time that we took it back to basics.
Forget your celery juice and apple cider vinegar capsules. Forget spending hundreds of dollars on fat burners and protein powders.
Just eat real food and listen to your body.
BEFORE YOUR WORKOUT:
There are a few things I would encourage you to consider. The first being, what time are you training? If you are going to a session at 6am and know you will only have a short window between getting out of bed and starting your workout, then it may be best that you don’t eat at all.
Your body will have enough energy stored to power you throughout the session and this will hopefully mean your breakfast will not come back up. Having said this, if you feel as though you need a bit of a boost, try having a coffee or a quick acting source of carbohydrate (e.g. a banana or bread and jam) about 30 minutes before your session.
If you have a bit more time, I would recommend eating a meal with a good, low GI carbohydrate source 1-2 hours before your session. This may be something like:
– Oats with fruit and peanut butter
– Toast with fruit and cottage cheese
– Rice with tuna and vegetables
– A ham and salad sandwich
The most important thing is that you listen to your body and find what works for you. If you do not like to train on an empty stomach, then eat. If you don’t like the feeling of food in your stomach during a workout, then make sure you allow enough time for digestion.
AFTER YOUR WORKOUT:
It is important that you have a meal within the two hours following which contains carbohydrates, proteins and fats. It is a common misconception that you need to have a protein shake immediately after your session to build muscle.
The reality is, our muscles can only absorb around 25g of protein at a time. To give you an idea, an average sized chicken breast has about 80g of protein in it, while an average sized protein shake has around 30g of protein. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you need to consume huge amounts of protein; it’s just not necessary.
This means, optimal recovery will come from eating a good carbohydrate source to replenish energy stores (think: rice, pasta, bread, oats), a good protein source to repair muscle tissue (think: chicken, tuna, eggs) and a source of fat to help you feel satiated (think: avocado, olive oil, peanut butter).
Of course, this is only a guide and will not work for everyone. Only you know your body and it may take a bit of trial and error before you find the timing that is best for you.