“Average people: Focus on food quality & quantity
if you’re exercising for general health and fitness;
if your goals are more modest; and/or
you don’t have unique physiological needs…
…then you probably don’t need any particular workout nutrition strategies.”
From a new article by Brian St. Pierre – Precision Nutrition
Today, I came across a great article from the smart people over at Precision Nutrition. You can read the entire article here. In the article, they really do a great job explaining the who, what, when, where, why behind pre and post workout nutrition. And in a nutshell, for most of us, it really doesn’t matter.
At Fivex3 Training, I get asked this question a lot: “What should I eat before/after I exercise?” And it’s a great question. And it’s also pretty simple to answer for 99% of the people asking this question. Why? Because as stated in the above quote, if you are exercising for general health and fitness, you do not need a complicated pre or post workout nutrition strategy. For the majority of people out there looking to lose weight, lose fat and feel more comfortable in and out of their clothes, instead of stressing about when, why, what, how they should eat before exercising, they should instead focus on eating some combination of protein, carbohydrates, healthy fats, and some fruit and vegetables before and/or after working out as well as keeping their portion sizes in check – for a man, more and for a woman, less.
So what does that mean for YOU?
- If you train early in the morning and exercise on an empty stomach, fine. Many of us can do this. If you do, then you should aim to eat a good breakfast afterwards containing some good protein, good fats and veggies/fruit, like an veggie omlette and a cup of strawberries. If you need something before you train, try eating something with a little protein/carbs like oatmeal.
- If you exercise in the early afternoon, before lunch, you will already have had a meal at least 2-3 hours before, if you ate a good breakfast. Maybe you had a snack too before you exercise (it’s okay if you don’t have a snack either, but some fuel in your stomach 2-3 hours before is good.) After exercise, since you won’t be eating dinner just yet, a protein shake/smoothie is a great idea. You don’t need this immediately after your session, but within 1-2 hours is a good idea. Then make a nice meal for dinner.
- If you train in the evening, anytime after 5pm on, then having a snack about 2 hours before is good or even just your lunch will help fuel your session. After you have trained, go home and eat a good dinner with protein, veggies, whole grains. You don’t need a post workout shake if you are going home right afterwards. Take time to make your dinner. Relax and eat. If you are not going home immediately and you won’t get a chance to eat for another 2 hours, then having a protein shake or smoothie after your training is a good idea, but not necessary if you are going home to eat. Remember, extra calories are extra calories and if weight loss is your goal, skip the shake and eat a good meal instead.
Here is an idea of a typical day for me. I always train in the late afternoon, between 4:30 and 6:00, then train my clients from 6 – 8:30. I get home around 9pm and have dinner with Diego.
Important Note: (We have always eaten this late, even before I started the gym. Diego is Argentinian and restaurants there do not even open for dinner until 8:00pm. So eating at 11pm is not uncommon. The myth that eating after 6 will make you fat…..whoever came up with that, well, you know what they can do with that. Eating after 6 will not make you gain weight. EATING A LOT OF CRAP AND EATING MORE THAN YOU NEED TO EAT after 6pm will make you gain weight. There. I have said my peace. Moving on.)
Breakfast: 8:30 – 2 egg Omelet with tons of vegetables, ham and cheese and a cup of fruit (1/2 orange and 1/2 cup of strawberries
Snack: 12:30pm – Protein shake w/water, maybe a banana too
Lunch: 2:30pm – 5.5 ounces of turkey burger, salad w/olive oil/vinegar
Train 4:30 – 6:00
Snack: 6:00pm – After my training, while I am coaching, I will have a protein shake w/almond milk, blueberries or banana or both that I prepped at home.
Dinner – 9:00pm Protein (fish or chicken sausage or steak – it varies from night to night) and a large garden salad w/cashew nuts.
Snack – Fruit
I typically end up getting around 140-160 grams of protein a day. I keep it heavy on the vegetables, my big source of carbs. This doesn’t mean I don’t eat rice or bread or potatoes. I do, typically on the weekend, when I my eating schedule is a little less “scheduled” as it is during the week. Eating the same way each day keeps me in a nice routine and allows me to be mindful of how I eat and what I eat, letting me relax a my eating a little on the weekends. This took time to work on but it certainly has helped me stay on track and I look forward to my huge salads at night all day.
I don’t go crazy trying to time meals or think about what I need to eat. I keep it simple like my training. Meal timing is a word that has been thrown around out there for awhile but really, it doesn’t matter at all for the vast majority of people. Eat mindfully, eat nutrient dense foods, watch how much you eat and exercise. This takes time and patience but if you slowly begin to put these things into practice, it will pay off in the long run.