This post will talk about what to eat before a workout and what to eat after a workout to optimize muscle growth and recovery time. Before we get into it, I just want to point out a distinction. This post is about what you eat after resistance training or weight lifting. In my next post, I will talk about What To Eat After Cardio.
What To Eat Before A Workout
Ideally, you want to eat a whole cut of meat as protein, carbohydrates in the form of starch and some leafy green vegetables.
Starch is most readily stored into your muscles as glycogen, potatoes are a great example. Whole cuts of meat have the higher nutritional content compared to meat that has been processed (chicken nuggets for example). Leafy greens are the most nutritionally dense vegetables, especially spinach, kale and broccoli.
The ratios between protein, carbs and fat are important. Depending on your goals, you want to create slightly different ratios. If you’re eating for muscle development and recovery, aim for equal parts protein and carbs. It doesn’t have to be exact, a little more meat than carbs and not too much fat.
Keeping a good clean diet with these ratios should help most people gain muscle and lose fat. Fine tuning these rations become more important once you already have muscle definition and want to get more ripped.
When To Eat Before A Workout
Eat at least 2 hours before your workout.
Digestion requires your body to pump blood to your stomach, lifting weights requires your body to pump blood to your muscles. Doing both is not optimal.
Let your body do the initial digesting, then go workout after. You will ll have more strength and focus this way.
Now, let’s talk about what to eat after a work out.
The Best Food To Eat After A Workout
The best food to eat after a workout is a high quality protein that can be easily digested and absorbed by your body. A high quality whey protein is perfect because it fulfills all of the criteria.
A lot of bodybuilders consider the post-workout meal to be the most important meal. After an intense workout, your body is in a state that absorbs macro-nutrients more efficiently. This means that it can take it protein and carbs at a slightly accelerated rate. Some people call this the ‘magic window’.
Next, let’s talk about whey protein. They are not all created equal…in fact, most whey protein sucks.
What To Look For In Whey Protein
Unfortunately, a lot of whey protein is very bad quality. Whatever whey protein you get, make sure that it:
- Tastes good
- Is Easily Digested
- Doesn’t cause you stomach problems
- Dissolves easily and dissolves completely in water
- NOT acid processed. Most isolates are acid processed, only get ones without this kind of processing.
Some whey protein makes you feel bloated for a long time after you eat it. This means that it’s sitting your stomach, undigested and not absorbed by your body. Stop taking it and find something of a higher quality.
Whey Protein Concentrate vs Isolate vs Hydrolysates
Concentrates are 29-89% protein and they still contain elements of dairy, people that are lactose intolerant are safer with isolates. This form has more fat and carbs.
Isolates are a more pure form of whey, they are 90%+ protein. People with lactose intolerance usually have no problems isolates.
Hydrolysates are ‘pre-digested’ so they can be metabolized faster. They are less allergenic than other forms of whey. Whey protein is already quickly metabolized by the body, the pre-digested feature makes no difference in helping you grow more. I would only recommend it for people that are very sensitive to dairy.
The costs of the whey proteins also vary. Concentrates are the cheapest, Isolates are more expensive and Hydrolysates are the most expensive.
Most Important Part: The Post Workout MEAL
The actual meal is more important than the whey protein, it’s where the real value is at. The post workout meal should contain a whole cut of meat (non-processed), vegetables and some carbohydrates for better recovery.
Starches are the best because they are more readily to be stored into your muscles as glycogen. Whole cuts of meat, vegetables and high quality carbohydrates are very rich in nutrients, far superior to simply taking whey protein.
Just having whey protein after your workout is not enough. The whey protein acts as a bridge to the next meal. By the time you get home and finish cooking your meal, a lot of time may have passed.
When to Eat After A Workout
Wait 20-30 minutes after your workout to have your food. Right after an intense workout, your body will be pumping blood to the muscles you have just worked. The digestive system will not work optimally because digestion requires your body to pump blood to your stomach. The break allows your body to recover.
If you enjoyed this article, check out my post on the “Best Workout To Get Ripped“. 20% of your muscles make up 80% of perceived muscle size. For fast results, it’s not about ‘gaining weight’, it’s all about developing the muscles that make a visual difference.