Maximizing Gains – Pre, During and Post Workout Nutrition
Workout is stress for the body. When we load the bar and lift it, we are stressing the muscles, joints, bones and CNS (Central Nervous System). To help the body recover from stress, we have to replenish what we have spent and provide the body with nutrients that will help in regeneration.
If you are on a strict diet, your lifting will suffer in both sets and reps. Carbs do wonders to strength and stamina (even if you are on keto diet, carbs loading is best on training day and vice versa). Caloric deficit makes body burns more calories than we consume. Since our bodies are made for survival and not beach look, our lovely bodies will rather keep fat for rainy days and not muscles. If we are stressing muscles enough even on low calorie diets, our bodies will have reason to keep those muscles and burn fat. Of course, balance in this situation depends on calorie deficit, body type, nutrition, age and many other things that are often very individual.
On the other hand, if you don’t workout with intensity and volume as before, you will not send a signal to your body that you want it to keep all of the muscles (or at least as much as possible) and lose fat.
So what do we do? We trick the body with proper nutrition before, during and after the workout. Thus, in the long run, we are in caloric deficit, but around workouts we have enough energy for good workout and enough nutrients to start muscle regeneration or even muscle growth.
Example of nutrition before, during and after workout would be:
– ~2 hours before workout, eat some complex carbs and protein, for example whole wheat pasta/veggies and fish/meat. Endomorphs should avoid even whole wheat pasta and eat only veggies with fish/meat. If you are feeling lightheaded, feel free to eat maybe even 1g of carbs per 1kg of LBM (Lean Body Mass). This meal will give you energy for next few hours – not that you will be able to set new personal records (PRs), but you should not feel lightheaded when going to the gym
– ~15 minutes before workout some liquid meal or supplement. Liquid meal would be one scoop of whey (based rather on whey concentrate then hydrolyzed whey; add some BCAA if possible) with some guarana, or just take some pre-workout energy booster supplement. This shake should give you energy boost for first few exercises. Energy levels could drop sharply if you don’t take next meal.
– Between 15th and 30th minutes of workout, drink slowly shake consisting of one scoop of whey and maybe 10g of glucose (dextrose); add some BCAA if possible. You need this nutrients to stay sharp and strong. It will give you energy to continue through the workout.
– After workout drink proper shake – one to two scoops of whey, 50-100g of glucose (dextrose), creatine, BCAA, C vitamin… glutamine if you find it useful (many people don’t, me included). This meal will increase nutrients levels in your blood, hormone insulin included. It will strongly promote muscle regeneration and recovery. Be aware that after 80-100 minutes, levels of nutrients fall sharply and you could feel really weak.
– ~1 hour after last shake, eat meal similar to last solid meal before workout – complex carbs with protein. This meal will help you stabilize blood nutrient levels. After this meal, eat you regular food according to your diet.
Is this all necessary? Not all, but both solid meals are simply must eat meals, with shake after workout (Post Work Out – PWM) highly recommended. Some people think that this is just too complicated for average trainee, but if you are serious about your diet and serious about losing fat and keeping or even gaining muscles while dieting, than this is simply something that you have to do. And if you managed to achieve beach look without this kind of pre, during and post workout nutrition, just think for a moment, what would you do if you did follow this kind of nutrition. With time passed, you will learn enough of your body, and you will be able to decide what is best for you in what situation – getting rid of the fat, peeking strength, putting on some muscle mass.
Some people don’t like meals right before and during workout – if you are one of them, then – don’t take them.
If you are ectomorph or even mesomorph on mass cycle, then by all means – eat regular food and forget gainers – they are after all just combination of some protein (mostly whey protein) with plenty of fast or moderate carbs (mostly sugar). But, be sure to always have PWM after workouts to promote muscle regeneration …