These days, more and more people are becoming more aware of the importance of working out. Hence, everyone is hitting the gym or training at home. However, very few know the importance of pre and post workout meals. Apart from training regularly, taking the right diet is also highly important if you wish to gain muscle mass. And this not only includes your food meals throughout the day but also your pre and post workout meals.
Unfortunately, there is a myth widespread among people that one should keep their stomach empty before hitting the gym. But in reality, eating right to get energy and proper nutrition for your workouts is highly crucial. And this is only possible by having the right pre workout and post workout meals. So, if you also work out on an empty stomach, this guide is just for you! We have covered all the important information about pre and post workout meals down below. You can also find their nutrition info, ideal timings, and most importantly, the best pre and post workout meal ideas.
What are Pre Workout Meals?
So as you can guess by the name, a pre-workout meal is something that you eat before your workout sessions. But is any meal taken before workouts going to be a pre-workout meal? The answer for this is obviously no.
In short, pre-workout meals are the ones that offer sufficient energy for exercising without making you bloated or feeling full. However, there is still more to pre-workout meals as you will see later on. To better understand what exactly a pre-workout meal is, you need to consider these two vital points:
Nutrition from Pre Workout Meals:
While all three macronutrients are equally important, your focus needs to be primarily on carbohydrates when choosing a pre-workout meal. And to be more specific, should go with meals that offer simple carbs instead of complex carbs. By eating simple carbs, your body can get energy much faster than it gets from complex carbs. Because of this same phenomenon, you may have even heard about carbo-loading in the past. It essentially means eating meals with simple carbs to perform your best while working out.
Without a proper pre-workout meal, your muscles may run out of energy. This may resulting in feeling fatigued and exhausted while working out. While fats and proteins also provide energy, your top priority should be simple carbs for pre-workout meals.
Timing of Pre Workout Meals:
Speaking of time, eating your pre workout meals at the right time is also quite important. If you have ever tried a pre-workout meal in the past, then you must know that you should refrain from eating right before exercising. Because if you eat anything right before your workouts, it can make you feel stuffed and even bloated which will certainly affect your performance during workouts. Since even simple carbs take time to break down, a time gap is needed between your meals and workouts. However, a long gap will make you run out of energy by the time you start exercising.
Based on these facts, it is recommended to eat your pre-workout meal 30-60 minutes before your workouts. It depends on what you’re eating and the type of exercises that you do. But most people also eat three primary meals in a day including breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Thus, while choosing the timing for your pre-workout meals you need to consider these too. Depending on your workout timings, you can either eat your primary meals as a pre-workout meal. Otherwise, you can eat your pre-workout meal between your primary meals and workout sessions. For most, it is going to be a small meal or snack for a pre-workout meal.
Best Pre Workout Meals for Muscle Gain
Now that you know the important things to consider while picking a pre-workout meal, choosing one should be fairly easy. But, if you’re unfamiliar with nutritious meals, then check out these best pre-workout meals for muscle gain:
- Coffee & Biscuits: Even though it may sound quite simple, the caffeine from coffee and carbs from multigrain or digestive biscuits can give you a good amount of energy for your workouts.
- Fruit Bowl: In case you want something even simpler as your pre workout meal, then you can go with a simple fruit bowl which will offer you a good amount of carbs, natural sugars, and a wide range of micronutrients.
- Banana Smoothie: You can also consider this since both banana and milk offer you plenty of energy for your workouts.
- Peanut Butter Sandwich: A peanut butter sandwich offers more than just carbohydrates. It also contains fats and proteins which makes it an all-rounder pre workout meal.
What are Post Workout Meals?
By now you must know pretty much everything about pre workout meals. However, to get the best results from your training, eating the right post workout meal is also quite important. As stated above, a pre workout meal is there to help you get the energy needed for workouts. On the other hand, a post workout meal is needed for post workout recovery.
Your muscles go through a lot of wear and tear during heavy workouts. And when provided the right nutrition while repairing, the muscles grow bigger than before. This is the phenomenon behind muscle build-up from workouts.
So, for this process, your muscles need to restore glycogen, which is the stored energy used during workouts. All this can happen only if you consume the proper nutrients. Thus, it is imperative to take care of your body to speed up your muscle recovery. Coming up, we will dig more into the nutrients you should be focusing on for post workout meals. You will also learn about the ideal timing for your post workout meal to get the best results.
Nutrition from Meals:
After a workout, the right meal can really make the difference you need in your fitness journey. So, while a balance of every macronutrient is desirable, you need to focus more on the consumption of carbohydrates and proteins for post workout recovery.
Unlike pre workout meals, you should focus more on complex carbs instead of simple carbs. This way, your post workout meals will help to restore the lost glycogen. The amount of complex carbs you’ll need to consume will completely depend on the intensity of your workouts and also on your calorie intake.
The next macronutrient you need to take is protein. Proteins hold high importance due to the fact that when you work out, it triggers the breakdown of your muscle proteins. And thus your body needs a sufficient amount of protein afterward to inhibit the process of breakdown and to help replenish and rebuild your tired muscles.
Timing for Meals:
Needless to say, you also need to be mindful of the timing of your post workout meal for the benefits it offers for recovery. The first suggestion will be to have any of your three major meals as your post workout meal. This is due to the reason that they have a perfectly balanced mix of all the macro as well as micronutrients that can provide the best nourishment for your body.
However, as in most cases, after an intense workout, you would want to have something right away. Thankfully, you can have your meal as soon as you finish your workout or within two hours which is an ideal time window for a post workout meal to facilitate recovery.
Best Post Workout Meals for Muscle Gain
It can be hard to pick a suitable meal when you see hundreds and thousands of fancy meals on the internet. So, to help you in choosing something that would provide you with the best nutrition and be quick to make, here are some of the best post workout meal options:
- Protein Shake: You can go for any good protein shake as a quick meal to replenish your muscles after a heavy workout.
- Low-fat Milk Fruit or Oats Smoothie: A fruit or oats smoothie can be the perfect combination of protein, complex carbs, fiber, as well as some really good nutrients like vitamins, phosphorous, etc to help the recovery.
- Boiled Eggs: Eggs clearly are a good source of protein and hence can help in the synthesis of protein after your workout session.
- Oatmeal: Oats are a good source of healthy carbs, protein, as well as fiber. And thus acts as a perfect post workout meal.
- Whole Grain Turkey Wrap: A whole grain turkey wrap is a quick snack to grab after a heavy workout session. The turkey will complete the protein requirement of your muscles’ healing and development, while the carbs in whole grain will restore the glycogen.
- Chicken with Quinoa: Top it up with some veggies and you’re good to go for your post-workout meal to restore the lost energy. The protein in chicken and carbs in quinoa will do the job to revive your sore muscles.
Exercising when done well along with a balanced diet can offer ample benefits for your health both physically and mentally. And to sustain the effects of a good workout session you need to be equipped with the right information to make better decisions in your daily meals.
With this guide, we have provided all the necessary information you will need to choose your next pre as well as post-workout meals, and we hope this knowledge comes in handy in making your future workouts more fruitful! If you have any thoughts or any queries about your workout meals make sure to let us know in the comments down below.