The most underestimated of our daily diets are the pre and post workout meals. As they suggest, these are the meals you eat before and after your workout, applicable to those who pay heed to fitness. Even though there is logic, science and some common sense behind these meals, there are a multitude of theories floating around about what we should and shouldn’t eat. This can be very confusing and complicated.
However, it is quite simple if you know your goal. Do you want to lose fat, build muscle or both? Is it to increase your strength and stamina, or is it to just be healthy? Whatever it may be, like they say, you are what you eat. Your calorie intake and balance of proteins, carbohydrates and fat is the key to optimum health and is the most important part of any diet plan. There are a few things to remember though: your pre and post workout meals should not replace any of your other meals as they are there for a specific reason. They impact and influence your workout and recovery more than we can imagine. The pre workout not only ensures that we have enough energy for the workout but also helps maximise our performance. The post workout aims at optimizing our recovery. Get both these meals right and half the game is won. Also, the calories of both these meals should be a part of your daily calorie count, not more or less.
This refers to the last meal you eat before your workout. It is also known as the best dose of instant energy before a strenuous session.
This is what it is aimed at:
- to reduce the glycogen depletion in your muscles - to reduce the protein breakdown and - to reduce the cortisol levels in the body after your workout
For this to happen, you have to make sure you have a balance of both carbohydrate and protein. This is simple, so keep it like that. It is best not to get too anxious about how many grams to have and exactly how many minutes before; at this stage, you need common sense. What is important to figure out is what time of the day your workout is, how much time you have before it and how intense it is going to be. All these points are important as you have to sustain it. This varies from person to person depending on your body type and metabolism.
If you have an hour to an hour and a half before your workout, ideally you should have some protein, carbohydrate and a little fat. Be smart and use your discretion as far as the quantities go. Fats should be incidental as they can cause discomfort and can give heartburn during your workout. If you are training first thing in the morning, have a smoothie or something light just to keep yourself going. Any workout that is above an hour and within two hours is considered strenuous.
Personally, I have a cup of milk, some almonds and a banana or an apple before my workout in the morning. If I’m feeling lazy, an espresso before my workout helps too. The attraction here is that caffeine is known to act as an artificial stimulant that helps mobilise and release fat cells into the blood stream and it increases your ability to have an intense workout and is therefore great as part of a pre workout option.
The first meal after your workout is very important as our body is in what is known as the ‘anabolic phase’ or the rebuilding phase. Your meal should help your body repair, recover and adjust to the workout you have just completed.
So, it needs to have both proteins and a bit of carbohydrate and a little fat to achieve the following:
• Reduce cortisol levels • Supply the muscle with glycogen that was used during your workout • Supply enough protein to the muscle so that it can repair itself • To reduce muscle stiffness and fatigue
It is best to have this meal sooner than later as the body is ready for good nutrition! Having it within 30 minutes is prefect or within an hour at the max.
1. Have a post workout whey protein shake. I feel this gives your body whatever is required without you needing to put in too much effort. It goes without saying and some just prefer a drink to a meal post workout. The advantage of a liquid meal is that is easily absorbed and digested.
2. The other option is to skip this and have a meal when you get home. Many prefer to eat higher glycemic foods at this point. Some chicken and rice, grilled fish, potatoes and some greens are good. For vegetarians, some egg or tofu is ideal.
3. And finally, one can always have whey protein powder and a natural carb source.
The fear of gaining weight with pre and post workout meals is a myth. As long as you do not exceed the calories you need to have, it’s fine. Both these meals should be a part of your total calorie intake. What one must remember is that the most important part of any diet is the calorie count.
2 salmon fillets ½ tsp ground garlic 1 tbsp olive oil 1 tsp butter 1 tblsp finely chopped fresh basil sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste 2 lemon wedges
1. Rub the salmon with lemon juice, garlic, salt, pepper and basil and keep aside for 15 minutes. 2. Heat the oil and butter in a non-stick frying pan. Add the salmon, skin-side down, and cook for 4 to 5 minutes on each side till browned and flaky. Serve immediately with lemon wedges.
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