What to Eat Before and After a Workout

Contrary to popular belief, it may not be best to carbo-load before working out

chicken and veggies
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Let’s start the pre-workout nutrition discussion by busting a nasty little myth. Your body does not require carbohydrates before training.

If you are not an elite-level athlete whose life is built around training, chances are your workouts are not intense enough to require additional carbs before your workout.

For most of us, consuming carbohydrates before a workout will not only add to the daily caloric intake, but also blunt our fat burning potential. No one wants that, so let's just agree to put down the energy bar before the next workout.

Instead, save the carbs for the post-workout meal when they are more likely to be used by our muscles to refill glycogen rather than store as body fat.

What should a pre-workout meal look like?

If fat loss is your goal, a pre-workout meal should look like any other meal. Eat simple, lean protein and veggies, and give your body enough time to digest.

What carbs are best to eat post-workout?

If fat loss is the goal, I recommend starchy vegetables, like sweet potatoes, and fruit, like watermelon, kiwi and pineapple, paired with lean protein for the best result.

Foods to avoid post-workout:

I generally recommend avoiding foods high in fructose, like bananas. This fruit has become a de facto health food because it is readily available and easy to eat on the run, but they are more than 90 percent fructose and thus less effective at replenishing muscle glycogen. I also recommend avoiding high-fat foods post-workout as they slow gastric emptying and don’t combine well with post-workout carbs for a fat-loss goal.

Dusten’s pre/post workout meal recommendations:

Keep things simple and eat a small portion of lean protein and veggies as a pre-workout meal an hour before training.

After training, eat lean protein and high glycemic fruit or sweet potatoes, while avoiding high-fat foods.

Dusten Nelson is a Chicago-based strength coach, nutritional expert and practitioner of Chinese medicine. Follow him on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, and check out his website. You can email Nelson at info@DustenNelson.com.

Nelson is currently training Chicago filmmaker Kenneth Yoder to compete in a 100-day bodybuilding challenge. See the original story here.

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