Fueling Up to Maximize your Workout, Muscle Growth and Recovery

muscleWhat and when you eat makes a big difference in the quality of your workout, recovery and muscle growth.

What should you eat before you workout?

Eat a carbohydrate-protein combo snack before exercise and you’ll provide fuel for a stronger workout. You can have a snack size portion of the easy to prepare carb-protein recovery meals listed below.

Adding a cup of caffeine doesn’t hurt either. Caffeine mobilizes fatty acids for use as fuel during your workout (and spares valuable glycogen) and it lessens the perception of how difficult the workout is.

What should you eat and drink during exercise?

During exercise the primary goal for nutrient intake is to replace fluid losses. For most exercisers that simply means drinking water during their workout. For those endurance athletes participating in difficult events lasting more than ninety minutes they need carbohydrates at 30-60 grams per hour for maintenance of blood glucose levels.

Why should you eat right after you workout?

There is a 30-minute post-exercise window of opportunity to optimally replace muscle glycogen, provide amino acids to repair and build muscles and ensure rapid recovery. Eat a carb-protein combination meal or snack as soon as tolerable after you exercise for optimal recovery.

Some easy to prepare carb-protein recovery meals include:

  • Cereal and fruit with yogurt or milk
  • Glass of nonfat chocolate milk
  • Apple and peanut butter
  • Fruit smoothie made with yogurt or milk
  • Turkey sandwich with a piece of fruit
  • Yogurt with berries and granola
  • Bean soup with whole grain crackers and low fat cheese
  • Oatmeal with milk, raisins, and slivered almonds
  • Peanut butter and banana sandwich
  • Scrambled or poached eggs on wholegrain toast
  • Fresh fruit and wholegrain toast with baked beans
  • Porridge, raisins and milk topped with seeds
  • Potato, chicken breast and salad
  • Chili

How much protein should you eat to build muscles?

The ACSM Position Stand on Nutrition for Athletes: their recommendation is daily protein intake of .5 g per pound body weight for endurance athletes and 0.75 g/lb body weight for strength athletes.

For those near their optimal body composition, don’t restrict calories while building muscles. With inadequate fuel, you’ll use protein for energy (calories), not for building muscles. That being said, for those who are not bodybuilders but who are working out to lose weight, your dietitian will help you calculate the correct amount of protein and caloric intake so that you will be able to gain muscle and lose fat simultaneously.