Have you dedicated yourself to a fitness routine determined to get results… But haven’t.
Would you love to find evidence-based ways to shortcut the journey to a gorgeous body you can be proud of?
Then, ask yourself: Do you know what to eat for a great workout? How to perfectly match your nutrition with your goals?
Or have you assumed that “pushing harder” is the answer? (It’s not)
If you don’t know what to eat and when you will work harder and longer than is needed to get the same results. So, let’s look at how to eat correctly before and after exercise to maximize your power and aesthetics.
The science behind nutrition, exercise, performance, and results
Each mouthful of food you consume contains a complex mix of macronutrients and micronutrients. Macronutrients — “macro,” meaning we need these nutrients in larger quantities than the micronutrients— include carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. Let’s focus on these vital nutrients.
The benefits of carbohydrates
Carbohydrates provide energy to power workouts. As the article, Exercise and Regulation of Carbohydrate Metabolism, said, “The major sources of energy during exercise are carbohydrates and fats.”
While you might choose to limit your carb intake, a certain amount is needed to function at peak performance. But the right amount of carbohydrates differ from person to person and depends on your goals.
When planning a high-intensity exercise sesh, ensure you have sufficient carbs in your system before and during exercise. Otherwise, your performance may be limited. When you run out of (carb-supplied) energy, you’ll run out of steam.
If endurance exercise is your thing — if you want to increase the production of your cell’s energy furnaces (mitochondrial biogenesis) and blood supply (capillary density) to become fitter — carbohydrates are essential too. They allow you to fuel your muscle correctly and slow the onset of fatigue.
But there’s a curious catch. Research suggests low carbohydrate availability might also “promote endurance-exercise-induced adaptations such as mitochondrial biogenesis and enhanced lipolysis.”
Yes, low-carb intake may increase your ability to produce energy, power on for longer, and boost your ability to burn body fat.
Regarding carb intake, most evidence suggests that carbs are vital for physical performance, fitness, and sculpting a body you adore. But it makes sense to experiment and see how your body responds. We’ll give you a solid starting point below. Then feel free to play around with your carb intake.
The benefits of fats
There are many types of fat, yet they’re often lumped in as one and the same. With the anti-fat mantra of the last decades, many people have come to believe that eating fat increases body fat. This isn’t necessarily true.
Fat is a dense source of energy. When you need more energy — when you’re between meals or exercising, for example — your body can break down fat stores to produce the fuel necessary to carry on.
Fat can be particularly valuable for sustaining energy during low-intensity exercise. Fat can improve brain and nerve function, which aids coordination. Certain fats — especially omega three fatty acids — can diminish inflammation and enhance joint mobility. These benefits may improve physical performance.
Fat also helps you to feel fuller for longer, which, when consumed sensibly, may support a healthy weight.
The (incredible) benefits of protein
Proteins support the function, regulation, and structure of the body’s organs and tissues. Made from amino acids, they play many roles.
But when creating a more muscular body, proteins act as the building blocks of muscle, repairing and growing lean muscle mass. This has been shown to improve strength and tone.
For example, taking protein supplements before or after exercise supercharges results. This essential macronutrient heightens the anabolic response, stimulating protein production and muscle growth.
Well-timed protein consumption has also been shown to decrease body fat percentage.
And if you’re following a low-calorie weight loss diet, increasing your dietary protein intake can prevent the loss of lean muscle mass. As we say in our article, 5 Facts That Nobody Told You About Building Muscle:
Diets often result in an unwanted loss of muscle mass. This is hugely concerning! However, there is a crucial answer. As a 2017 article published in the journal, Advances in Nutrition, “High protein intake helps preserve lean body and muscle mass during weight loss.”
With this basic knowledge under our belts, let’s look at how to plan your pre and post-workouts for the best results.
Simple, effective pre-workout nutrition
Think about your pre-workout nutrition setting the tone for the performance. Being well-nourished means that you’ll be able to perform at your best. You need enough fuel to hit your straps, like filling up the gas tank before a race. After all, if you’re putting in the effort, you should aim for the best return possible.
How much and what you eat will depend on your tolerance. Some people don’t cope with much food in their bellies as they begin to exercise. If this is you, don’t worry. Appropriate nutrition consumed over the day still helps.
And speaking of appropriate nutrition, you’ll find 6 delicious recipes below to help you put effective eating into play. But before we dive into food, let’s answer a frequently asked question: Yes, you will likely need to supplement. Protein, particularly.
Because achieving sufficient protein can be challenging, supplementing is often needed. If your aim is to build muscle mass — or at least maintain the muscle you have — The International Society of Sports Nutrition recommends a daily protein consumption of 1.4 - 2.0 grams per kilogram of body weight.
If you’re also on a low-calorie diet, you may need to up your protein intake to between 2.3 - 3.1 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight to retain your lean body mass.
But what type of protein is best?
To get the most bang for your buck, choose a protein source that contains the full array of essential amino acids (EAA). In particular, leucine. Each portion — including your pre-workout amount — should have between 700 - 3000 mg of leucine, plus each of the other EAAs: histidine, isoleucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan, valine.
The easiest way to ensure you meet these requirements is to supplement with a product designed to meet this need...
Like our ever-popular Vegan Complete Pro.
As Lindsay W. said, “I always have a hard time finding protein. I like that actually tastes GOOD and smooth. This stuff tops it all! I have been working out for most of my life now and this stuff is by far my favorite. Not only does it taste amazing, but it doesn’t irritate my stomach like other proteins have in the past.”
Add this to a meal, shake, or snack that contains carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, and you’re good to go.
Pre-workout nutrition recipes
Want some inspiration?
Our delicious Energy Balls contain 7 grams of protein, 17 grams of carbs, and 8 grams of fat.
Our gorgeous Acai Bowl contains 5 grams of protein, 154 grams of carbs, and 18 grams of fat.
And our crowd favorite, Chocolate Vegan Protein Bowl, contains a rounded mix of 55 grams of protein, 96 grams of carbs, and 79 grams of fat.
Easy, potent post-workout nutrition
If your pre-workout nutrition is about setting the tone for the performance to come, your post-workout nutrition is about timely repair and solidifying the benefits of your hard work.
Whether you engage in strength training or endurance exercise, consuming protein after your training session can aid recovery, increase lean body mass, supercharge muscle hypertrophy, and improve strength.
But how much is enough?
According to a review article published in The Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 3 – 4 grams of leucine maximizes protein synthesis. The authors recommend the perfect post-workout supplement should contain at least 3 grams of leucine per serving.
Add a fast-acting carbohydrate to the leucine-containing protein above — maltodextrin or glucose, for example — to improve protein synthesis.
And what is the best source of protein?
If you’re not into downing raw eggs like they do in the movies, you can breathe a sigh of relief. Whey protein is ideal.
A scoop and a half of our 100% Whey Protein Isolate contains 4.05 grams of leucine and the full spectrum of other essential amino acids.
And it tastes delicious!
As Vincent O. said, “Very impressed with the product. Tastes great, mixes well, and is helping me achieve my goals.”
Add some fruit to supply the few absorbable carbs needed to boost your results, and you’ve got some yummy post-workout fare.
We’ve created recipes to help you do this easily.
Post-workout nutrition recipes
Our post-workout recipes have been created to provide the nourishment you need and taste sensational.
Our Post-Workout Rice Pudding will tantalize your tastebuds and aid recovery. With 14 grams of protein, 12 grams of carbs, and 5 grams of fat, it’ll soon be a fav.
Our After-Workout Protein Smoothie contains everything you need. With 28 grams of protein, 57 grams of carbs, and 6 grams of fat.
Or if you have the hunger pangs and are ready for a meal, try our Chicken, Peas, and Pine Nuts Risotto. With 50 grams of protein, 116 grams of carbs, and 33 grams of fat, it’ll fill the spot nicely.
What and when you eat matters. Making the right decisions can bring you closer to your health goals and do so more quickly.
Understanding the benefits of protein, carbohydrates, and fats — and putting what you discover into action — can boost performance, speed up protein synthesis, muscle growth, repair, and strength, and help you achieve the body you’ve always wanted.
And with our recipes, your fitness and physique journey will taste great too!