What you consume before and after your workout can be just as important as your time in the gym itself. There are a few diet fundamentals that will maximize gym performance and recovery. By consuming appropriate levels or protein and carbohydrates, you will be able to increase your lifts and build more muscle.
In order to get the most out of your workouts, you must prepare your body by consuming a balanced meal beforehand. This means taking in a meal containing a good amount of healthy carbohydrates and dietary protein. Carbohydrates tend to act as fuel, which is a big help before a strenuous workout. A great carbohydrate to protein ratio would be 2:1. This means for every gram of protein you eat you should have twice as many grams of carbohydrates.
There are many different ways to achieve this. For those lifting in the morning, cereal with low-fat milk should do the trick. Those who want to eat something more substantial could make themselves an egg and cheese breakfast sandwich on a bagel. Try to stay away from sugary carbohydrates that lead to a short spike in energy. While fine for a short period of time, these sugars could result in a huge drop-off during your time in the gym. One quick and easy method is a pre-workout protein shake or smoothie. A great combination would be fat-free yogurt, fruit, and a scoop of your favorite protein powder. This quick and easy meal could be consumed on the way to the gym.
After your time in the gym, your muscles will be broken down and in need of serious repair. This is where protein comes into play. By taking in a big meal with a large amount of protein, you can stop this breakdown and begin rebuilding your muscles. While most recommend a protein shake after your workout, a well-balanced meal is also a great solution. Try to take in at least 40 grams of protein along with some good carbohydrates. For example, eight ounces of chicken with a baked potato would yield approximately 50 grams of protein.
Those who are on a strict diet could use this time to indulge a bit. This is not the time to go crazy; however, some sugary carbohydrates or fattier cuts of meats are acceptable here. A cheeseburger made of lean ground beef will still supply ample protein while helping long-term diet compliance. Candy or sugary cereal, while not ideal, could help expedite the protein through your blood stream and speed up recovery.
Pre and post-workout nutrition has been overcomplicated for years. It is actually quite simple; your pre-workout nutrition should focus on carbohydrates while your post-workout nutrition needs to center around protein. It is OK to experiment before your workouts as well. Test out a few meals and make note of your energy levels in the gym. If you start out strong but fade late in your workout, you should add more carbohydrates to your pre-workout meal. Keep your meals balanced and track your calories so you can make necessary adjustments when needed.