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June 20, 2014

Pre- and post-work out nutrition points on protein

by Helene van den Berg

To consume protein powders straight after a workout, is only essential, if you’re an endurance athlete or a tri-athlete, who train several times per day.

The primary goals of pre-and post-workout nutrition are to:

  • Enhance athletic performance (improve stamina, mental focus, physical power)
  • Positively affect body composition (recovery for building muscle, minimize muscle damage, losing weight).

Pre- and post- work out nutrition ISN’T one-size-fits-all-scenario. It varies, depending on the particular type of activity as well as duration and time-of-day.

In Alan Aragon’s research review, he has given some good guidelines for estimating the best approach to eating before, during and after a workout:

ENDURANCE SPORTS: e.g. marathons, long distance track and cycling events, soccer etc.

Top macronutrient are carbohydrates for replenishing muscle glycogen, maintaining stamina and energy during the event.

  • 2-4 hrs pre/post: balanced full meal consisting of carbohydrates and protein, 0.2-0.25 g/lb target bodyweight for both protein and carbohydrates.
  • During (for every hour of endurance activity): liquids or gels, 8-15 g protein, 30-60 g carbohydrates.
  • 30-60 min pre/post: liquid or semi-liquid carbohydrates for easy digestion, 0.2-0.25 g/lb target bodyweight for both protein and carbohydrates.

Endurance activities are events lasting at least 60 minutes and longer. Muscle glycogen gets depleted, therefore these athletes require a significant daily amount of carbohydrates to maintain energy levels, stamina, and replenish muscle and liver glycogen levels.

STRENGTH/POWER SPORTS:

e.g. weightlifting, bodybuilding, football, throwing events in track and field etc.

Top macronutrient is protein for optimizing muscle recovery and growth and minimizing muscle damage.

  • 2-4 hrs pre/post: balanced, full meal consisting of carbohydrates and protein, 0.2 – 0.25 g/lb target bodyweight for both protein and carbohydrates.
  • 30-60 min pre/post: liquid or semi-liquid carbohydrates for easy digestion, 0.2 -0.25 g/lb target bodyweight for both protein and carbohydrates.

Strength/power sports have repeated bursts of short, intense activity. The total amount of actual work done is around 45-60 min, therefore muscle glycogen is not depleted to the extent of endurance sports. Most recreational exercisers tend to fall in this category as well. Therefore, protein is important for supporting strength and muscle growth while minimizing muscle damage and loss.

WEIGHT LOSS

For recreational exercisers or those who want to lose weight, it is important to burn more calories than you are bringing into the body. Create a calorie deficit first and then worry about your pre-and post-workout nutrition.

NOTE: The carbohydrate and protein guidelines above can be effective for supporting recovery from training, but they are always secondary to meeting your calorie and overall macronutrient guidelines. Once that is established, nutrient timing boils down to personal preference. If you feel bloated and nasty eating too close to a workout, create a bigger window between the pre-workout meal and the actual work out.

Use common sense, follow these guidelines and listen to your body!!

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