A blog about my life, fitness and fun! (...and maybe a few cat pictures...)

A blog about my life, fitness and fun! (...and maybe a few cat pictures...)

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Ask Meg Go Run: What should I eat before and after strength training?

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I'm going to start a set of posts that answer fitness questions! So if you have a question, send it to me. If I don't get questions, I will just answer something I am curious about!

I am in LOVE with this book on nutrition. It explains things in easy to understand ways. It doesn't just TELL you things are so, it also explains WHY they are so, and in a way that's easy to comprehend. I'm not an idiot, but I like cut and dry vocabulary... not jargon. It has definitely answered a lot of my questions related to nutrition and exercise. It is also the book I will use as my source to answer my first question.

So here we go!

Question: What should I eat before and after strength training?

The best way to get the biggest bang for your buck in the gym is to eat the proper foods BEFORE AND AFTER you exercise. You must fuel your body properly to get through your workout and you must replenish your body properly afterwards so your muscles rebuild and get stronger.

The Simple Answer: Eat a carbohydrate before strength training. After strength training, eat a carb with a high glycemic index and pair it with a protein.

Here is the explanation of the answer:

Before your workout, you need to eat carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are your main source of fuel during exercise- especially exercise of high intensity, like strength training. If you don't have enough carbs stored as energy to last your whole workout, your body will go to protein as a fuel source. My guess is, if you are weight training, you'd rather save that protein for your muscles- not burn it during your workout! So eat some carbohydrates before you strength train. You need them!

(Don't overload on carbs. The extra carbohydrates you don't burn get stored as fat. EEK!!)

After you strength train, it is time for your body to rebuild and replenish. You want to eat something that will minimize protein breakdown (a carb with a high glycemic index) and then some protein to help rebuild your muscles. The rebuilding part is when your muscles get stronger, so it is VERY important to nourish your body properly! 

Examples of Carbs with high/medium GI

brown or white rice
white bread,
white pasta
baked potato
sweet potato

So if you want an excuse to eat white bread, white rice, or white pasta, now is the time! Just don't go OVERBOARD on these foods. It's not a calorie free-for-all!

Examples of food high in protein:

Greek yogurt
cottage cheese
beans (also has carbs)
protein powder

(Of course there are many other foods that could go on both of these lists, but I kept it simple.)

If you need some yummy protein shake ideas... check out this post!

I used to wait as long as possible after exercise to eat. I would feel thin from working out, and didn't want to lose that feeling by stuffing my face with food. Unfortunately, I was missing out on all the wonderful benefits proper nourishment would have done for my body. Nowadays, I can't WAIT to refuel, and prefer to do it as soon as possible- even though within an hour is ideal.

When I strength train, I basically eat two breakfasts. I wake up, have cereal, strength train, and then eat a chicken sandwich on the way to work. Then I eat fruit and Greek yogurt at my desk because I'm so hungry! The old me never would have eaten all that food. The old me would get up at 5:30am, run 8 miles, and then eat an apple around 10am. Boy was I STUPID!

So eat your carbs, eat your protein, 
so you can recover, get stronger, 
and hit the gym even harder!

If you have any fitness questions for future Meg Go Run posts, leave me a comment, or email me!

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