This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclaimer for more info.

workout_meal

I am always thrilled to hear from listeners who are consistent with workouts!

That’s not easy to do, so I in my humble opinion, I think it's amazing.

A couple of disclaimers…

I’ll start by saying I am not sponsored by any food or supplement manufacturer. My goal as always is to tell you the truth to the best of my knowledge. More often than not, my information comes from published research studies. By doing this, I’m hoping that what I report to you comes from a minimally biased perspective.

This is because when we rely on other people’s experiences with meal plans, or workout routines, or supplements, there’s a really high probability that what they’re doing may not work for you at all. This is why we need well-designed studies… so we can try and figure out if certain meal plans, for example, work for most.

Or, if we don’t have time for that, the least we can do is to look to respected organizations who look at all the research for us and see what they say.

My other disclaimer is that, when it comes to recommending specific meals, the intensity and duration of your exercise matters, too. So, my recommendations may not be perfect for you, but try it out and see!

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to it.


Listen to Dr. Neal address this topic on Episode 930 of the podcast Optimal Health Daily.


What should I eat before working out?

As far as the pre-workout meal goes, two of the best things you can do are:

  1. drink 1 cup of black coffee or plain tea about 1 hour before, provided you’re not sensitive to their effects, and
  2. hydrate.

But, let’s get a bit more specific. When it comes to pre-workout fueling, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says that we should consume 1 to 4 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram body weight anywhere from 1 or up to 4 hours before exercising.

Ok, so we have to do a little bit of math to figure this out, but stick with me, it’s not too bad. Let’s say a person weighs 160 lbs. We first need to convert their body weight from lbs. to their weight in kg. To do this, divide their body weight by 2.2. So, using my example, just divide 160 lbs. by 2.2. Plugging this into my imaginary calculator… we find that 150 lbs. is equivalent to 72.72 kg. Now, no matter what you weigh, you would use this same formula. Take your body weight in lbs. and divide it by 2.2.

Now that we know your hypothetical body weight in kg, the math is simple! Because the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says we need 1 gram of carbohydrate per kg of body weight, we don’t need to do anymore math… we have our answer!

Using our example, we said 160 lbs. is equivalent to 72.72 kg, and because the minimum recommendation is to get 1 g of carbohydrate per kg body weight – we would multiply 72.72 times 1… which is 72.72! So, that means if you weigh 160 lbs., you should consume about 72 g of carbohydrate before a workout, at a minimum.

It’s also recommended that we avoid foods that are really high in fiber or high in fat. Both fiber and fat will slow the digestion of these foods, which may affect your workout. So, 3-4 hours before your workout, you could eat a whole English muffin, topped with a tablespoon of fruit spread, and a medium-sized apple on the side.

There’s really no protein recommendation before exercise. Most health organizations say to really focus on getting enough carbs before a meal. Protein comes later.

Now, if you’re a marathoner or triathlete, then you could consume up to 4 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram body weight. This would be equivalent to 273 grams of carbohydrate 1 to 4 hours before a meal. For many people, 273 grams of carbs is practically a whole day’s worth! That’s why I said this “4 grams of carbohydrate” recommendation is really best for ultra-endurance athletes, not the average gym-goer.

hydrate

What should I have as a post-workout meal?

So what should we eat after we’ve expended all that energy and done all of that hard work? Well, we’re in luck because the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has an opinion on that, too! They say that we should consume some more carbohydrates after the workout because, after exercise, there is more blood flow to muscle cells and the muscle cells are more sensitive to insulin, which all means that we can replenish our muscles' energy stores really fast.

A different organization, the American College of Sports Medicine, says we should eat these carbs within 30 minutes of finishing our workout. And since the workout is over, we don’t need to worry too much about fiber content. When it comes to quantity, the recommendation is to consume the same as before: about 1 gram of carbohydrate per kg of body weight. So, if someone weighs 160 lbs., that means another 72 grams or so of carbohydrate within 30 minutes after the workout.

Here is also a good time to add in some protein. Both the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the American College of Sports Medicine agree — hey, when does THAT ever happen? Two organizations agree about nutrition recommendations? It’s our lucky day!

Anyhoo, both agree that we should aim to consume about 20 grams of protein within 30 minutes after the workout is ideal. The belief is that doing so may stimulate muscle growth and prevent muscle breakdown. Digging a little deeper into the research, we find that consuming leucine-rich proteins, specifically, may be even more helpful. Leucine-rich proteins are found in animal-based proteins, like meat, chicken, eggs, and dairy.

So, how much is 20 g of protein? For example, 3 oz. of chicken would contain about 27 grams of protein… and 3 oz. isn’t much. It’s about the size of a deck of cards. So, after a workout, 3 oz. of chicken with a large sweet potato and broccoli on the side should do the trick.

These recommendations should keep you functioning at your best before, during, and after your workouts!


Listen to Dr. Neal address this topic on Episode 930 of the podcast Optimal Health Daily.


Tags: health
mm

Neal Malik

Dr. Neal Malik leads the Master of Science in Nutrition for Wellness program and teaches core courses at Bastyr University California. He has a Doctorate in Public Health from Loma Linda University and is a Certified Exercise Physiologist from the American College of Sports Medicine.Send in your health related question and Dr. Neal will answer it on the Optimal Health Daily show!
Minimalism Tips for Family Cheat Sheet

Minimalism Tips for Family Cheat Sheet

Enter your email to get our free PDF cheat sheet on minimalism tips for family members. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and life tips!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Join my weekly newsletter for life tips, quotes, and free tools to optimize your life (and make my day)!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Minimize Your Wardrobe: Inspiration File

Minimize Your Wardrobe: Inspiration File

Enter your email to get our free Inspiration File on minimizing your wardrobe. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and life tips!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Checklist: How to Declutter Sentimental Items.

Checklist: How to Declutter Sentimental Items.

Enter your email to get our free PDF checklist on decluttering sentimental items. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and life tips!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

5-Day Email Course - Get Started with Minimalism

5-Day Email Course - Get Started with Minimalism

Enter your email to join our free 5-day ecourse on getting started with minimalism. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Checklist-How to Declutter Paper

Checklist-How to Declutter Paper

Enter your email to get our free PDF checklist on how to declutter paper. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Checklist - How to Declutter Books

Checklist - How to Declutter Books

Enter your email to get our free PDF checklist on how to declutter books. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Checklist - How to Help Kids Learn to Declutter Toys

Checklist - How to Help Kids Learn to Declutter Toys

Enter your email to get our free PDF checklist on how to help kids learn to declutter their toys. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Checklist - Bare Minimum of Items for Moving

Checklist - Bare Minimum of Items for Moving

Enter your email to get our free PDF checklist on the bare minimum of items you need when moving. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Checklist - Why Personal Finance is Important

Checklist - Why Personal Finance is Important

Enter your email to get our free PDF checklist on why financial literacy is important. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Cheat Sheet - How to Overcome Money Fears

Cheat Sheet - How to Overcome Money Fears

Enter your email to get our free PDF cheat sheet on overcoming money fears. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Bonus - Debt Payoff Tracker PDF

Bonus - Debt Payoff Tracker PDF

Enter your email to get our free PDF debt payoff tracker. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Cheat Sheet - How To Stay Motivated When You Feel Stuck

Cheat Sheet - How To Stay Motivated When You Feel Stuck

Enter your email to get our free PDF cheat sheet on maintaining your level of motivation. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Cheat Sheet - What Should I Do After A Deep Tissue Massage?

Cheat Sheet - What Should I Do After A Deep Tissue Massage?

Enter your email to get our free PDF cheat sheet on what to do after a deep tissue massage. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Cheat Sheet - Tips for Sitting at a Computer All Day

Cheat Sheet - Tips for Sitting at a Computer All Day

Enter your email to get our free PDF cheat sheet on tips to counter sitting at a computer all day. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Cheat Sheet - How Do I Stick to a Budget?

Cheat Sheet - How Do I Stick to a Budget?

Enter your email to get our free PDF cheat sheet on tips to stick to your budget. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Expert Tips - How to Get Over a Breakup

Expert Tips - How to Get Over a Breakup

Enter your email to get our free PDF with expert tips on getting over a breakup. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Expert Tips - How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

Expert Tips - How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

Enter your email to get our free PDF with expert tips on how to stop comparing yourself to others. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Expert Tips - 10 Health & Fitness Quotes

Expert Tips - 10 Health & Fitness Quotes

Enter your email to get our free PDF with health and fitness quotes from Optimal Health Daily episodes. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Cheat Sheet - Toxic Relationships

Cheat Sheet - Toxic Relationships

Enter your email to get our free PDF with tips on how to spot -- and get out of -- a toxic relationship. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration, quotes, life tips, and more!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

newsletter_shout3

A Better You

Sign up for quick and easy weekly tips on productivity, happiness, and how to optimize your life.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

OLD Podcast: Library

OLD Podcast: Library

Enter your email to get your password to access our handy library. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and life tips!

You have Successfully Subscribed!