Pre And Post Workout Nutrition Tips: What To Eat To Maximize Your Results!
How many of you are confused about what you should eat or take before and after workouts? Yesterday during my LIVE nutrition seminar on Facebook, we discussed pre and post workout nutrition and what you should take to maximize your results in the gym. Here is a recap of what we discussed!
Pre-workout: What To Eat Before Workouts
I personally prefer working out on an empty stomach (this includes both cardio and weight training workouts). I think most people benefit from fasted workouts and get better results. With that said, there are two groups of individuals who should DEFINITELY eat something before hitting the gym:
- Hard gainers who are looking to increase their muscle mass
- Those new to weight training who are not used to intense workouts and may experience low blood sugar
If you are in the above categories, reach for a piece of fruit (like a banana or orange) or have some slow digesting carbs like oatmeal and berries about 1 hour before workouts. Egg muffins are another great idea!
Below, I have listed some supplements that may also be useful as well. Most health food stores carry the brands recommended below (Noah’s, Healthy Planet, Your Good Health Store, Ambrosia…) Even some supplement companies may carry these brands (try Bull Dog Nutrition or Herc’s if in the GTA!)
- Coffee: The first and foremost “supplement” I recommend is have a shot of espresso or a cup of black coffee. Alternatively, you can buy caffeine pills (in 200 mg – one tablet would do!). Coffee is a natural thermogenic that helps metabolize fats so a great option as a pre-workout.
- Green Coffee Bean extract: This is a healthy alternative to coffee…. it supplies a milder form of caffeine so you get the energy boost without the big crash. Try Nature Wise coffee bean extract!
- Green tea extract: Another good option is to buy some green tea extract. It’s a natural thermogenic. Now Supplements is a well-trusted source for green tea and other supplements!
- Match green tea: You can prepare matcha in hot water or hot almond/ cashew/ coconut milk. Matcha has caffeine (about 80 to 100 mg per tablespoon or so) but it is a slow releasing caffeine so it’s a great alternative to coffee.
- MCT or Coconut oil: I typically do not take MCT oil but it’s a great option for those of you who practice intermittent fasting and need a little boost in energy to keep you going. I personally love the taste of coconut oil in coffee! 1 tablespoon does the trick! Please note Ahmahkyah takes Bullet Proof brand’s MCT oil!
- L- Carnitine: L-carnitine is an amino acid that helps metabolize fats while you are working out. About 1000 mg before your workout is a good dose. If you are going to take L-carnitine only take it on days that you workout and make sure to cycle it! As in taking for 4 weeks, then off for 2 to 4 weeks, then back on… your body can get used to it otherwise!
- CLA: CLA or Conjugated Linoleic Acid is a fatty acid that is found in red meat and dairy. It is known for helping reduce body fat… I personally have used it and don’t find it super effective, but it’s totally worth a try as some people SWEAR it’s effective.
- Other: I do not take any pre-mixed pre workouts or other supplements prior to working out. There are some harsher supplements (like Ephedrine, Yohimbe etc) out on the market but their safety is questionable. I would steer away as these supplements can over stimulate and lead to unwanted symptoms such as heart palpitations, flushed face and high blood pressure…. not worth the risk if you ask me!
During Workouts: What To Eat During Your Workouts
Personally, I do not take BCAAs or any supplement or food during workouts. Water is the only thing I have! And occasionally coconut water! I do think that hard gainers and those new to weight lifting do benefit from BCAAs and electrolytes. Please note that neither of those two supplements to weight gain so if you are looking to lose weight, you are still safe taking those supplements!
- Water: H2O is where it’s at! Our bodies need about 2 to 3 liters of water to stay hydrated, so bring some water with you while you workout. Remember that you will be sweating so great to keep hydrated.
- BCAAs: BCAAs or Branched Chain Amino Acids are made up of L-Leucine, L-valine, and IsoLeucine. These 3 amino acids cannot be manufactured by our bodies meaning we need to absorb them from our food (…. hence the need for supplementation). They help maintain and grow muscle. I personally do not typically take BCAAs but have done so in the past. I think BCAAs are great for those who are new to weight training or for hard gainers, aka those who are strictly looking to gain weight. With that said, many of my clients do like taking these as they can push harder and squeeze in those last few reps. I do also think BCAAs are great for those who workout early in the morning as a little boost! Please note many BCAA supplements are sweetened with sugar alcohols like aspartame (which are not so healthy). Try to purchase unflavoured ones or one sweetened with Stevia like Cygen Labs BCAAs.
- Electrolytes: Balancing electrolytes is crucial to an effective workout. If you find that your energy drains fast as you are working out, try giving an electrolyte supplement (like the one here from Vega) a try! You can also opt for some natural, unsweetened coconut water.
- Dex 4 Glucose Tabs: These are easily found at your local Walmart or pharmacy. They are great to keep around for those of you who experience low blood sugar while you workout.
Post Workout: What To Eat After Workouts
Boy, this part is the complicated part! First and foremost, know that there is no magical window in which you have to consume food or shake after workouts. This myth has been debunked. You can safely eat any time after a workout ( …. it does not have to be immediate!). Studies show that for the average person (non-competitors/ Performace athletes) eating immediately after workouts vs. waiting an hour or two doesn’t make a significant difference as far as building or retaining muscle tissue. So after workouts, just eat a healthy balanced meal whenever you can. If you are not super hungry try having a shake or perhaps an egg white omelet (mix in some spinach, jalapenos, green peppers, onions … get creative!)
- Food: Food is my go to post workout! Many trainers are adamant about protein shakes, and although it’s still a good choice, I think you are still much better off eating real food. 4 to 6 oz of protein (chicken, fish, egg whites, steak, turkey, game meat) coupled with 30 to 100 grams of fast digesting carbs is the way to go! Our muscles are CRAVING food (… especially carbs and protein) after workouts so really good idea to feed it! Ps. your body will absorb anything after workouts so if you are gonna have sugar, have it right after your workout! Dates, honey, pineapple, melons … Sugar-free dried mangoes all a great post workout snack (couple with 20 to 30 grams of protein of course!)
- Protein shakes: Another good option is to have a shake after workouts. And my shake, I really mean like a delicious shake with berries, half a banana, perhaps some peanut or almond butter, mixed in with some protein and almond milk. Really, anything is good here! I personally rotate between a Vegan and an Isolated Whey protein supplement. Either is good! If you are intolerant to whey or dairy, go with a vegan protein supplement like Vega Sport or Kaizen Naturals Vegan protein.
- … More on protein: Please note not everyone is the same when it comes to protein. Some whey protein supplements may make you break out or cause digestive problems. I personally look for an isolated New Zealand whey made from grass fed cows and free of aspartame and sucralose. You gotta read labels to find the right one! A vegan protein supplement is also a great choice!
Bonus: My Natural Beauty Products:
About a year ago, upon reading about the crap that is in our beauty products I switched over to natural alternatives that are sulphate and paraben free. Parabens and sulfates (among other chemicals and binding agents used in beauty products) have been linked to allergies and cancer. When I speak about supplements, I like to also include some suggestions of beauty products.
- Jason All Natural Toothpaste in Sea Fresh: This is one of the two natural kinds of toothpaste that I use… this flavor is the best! Other ones are a little iffy… stick to the Sea Fresh
- In Vitamin Activated Charcoal Toothpaste: So activated charcoal does wonders for your teeth! You can use it to brighten and whiten your teeth and gums!
- In Vitamin Activated Charcoal Powder
- In Vitamin Natural Coconut Oil Deodorant: I picked this up from Winners but you can find similar natural deodorants from health food stores like Noah’s.
- Shea Butter: I use Mama’s Natural Life, Now Foods (buy here) and Superior Shea jars of butter… all great brands! Mama’s and Superior are local, Toronto-based, so I prefer those (as I like to support local entrepreneurs).
Last but not least, Some Other Useful Supplements:
There are a few other supplements that I personally use! I chatted about these briefly on my live segment:
- Bees Keeper’s Bee Pollen: I use bee pollen (aka baby bee food) instead of multi-vitamins. It contains 84 minerals and vitamins so its a great replacement for multivitamins…
- North Coast Naturals Greens drink: My greens drink contains matcha so great to have in the AM! I take Bee Keeper’s Bee Pollen and Prairie Naturals Spirulina in powder format as well.
- Spirulina/ Chlorella: I use Prairie Naturals Spirulina in powder format … you can alternatively try Chlorella. Sea veggies contain protein, minerals, and vitamins so a great addition to your diet!
- Nut butter: I LOVE Nuts & More nut butters! They are high in protein and good yummy fats! They come in all kinds of flavors… I’ve tried many of em and think they all taste good!