What to Eat Before and After Training
Pre and post workout nutrition plays an imperative role in your growth as a boxer. Certainly, putting the sweat sessions in at the gym helps you to become stronger, but to truly thrive in the ring, you need to be fueling your body correctly.
Without the proper foods surrounding your workouts, your body will lack the nutrients and energy it needs to preserve muscle, build endurance and improve your overall fighting technique. Your diet will help keep both your body and brain in the game.
Do you want to be your best in the ring? Do you want to get the most out of your training sessions? Let’s take a look at what to eat both before and after training.
What to Eat Before Training
Training sessions take a lot of energy. It’s important to properly fuel your body before the big sweat session, so that your body has enough energy and strength to not only get through your workout, but to get the most out of your workout.
Pre-workout nutrition is going to help you:
Stay fueled and hydrated.
Boost workout performance.
Preserve muscle mass.
Speed up recovery time after your workout.
Aim to eat a well-balanced meal consisting of protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats about 1-3 hours prior to your workout. Let’s talk a little bit more about each nutrient in detail.
It is well documented that protein is a great source of nutrition for fueling muscles and workouts.
The benefits of consuming protein prior to exercise include:
Maintaining muscle mass.
Aiding in muscle growth.
Improving muscle recovery.
While a protein shake is perfectly fine, it isn’t any better or worse than whole-food protein options when it comes to pre-workout benefits. Some great sources of protein include lean meats, seafood, Greek yogurt and nuts.
Glucose from carbohydrates is your muscles’ main source of energy during workouts, particularly during short and high-intensity workouts. Glycogen is the way your body processes and stores glucose. As glycogen stores are limited, they become depleted as you workout, affecting your performance, energy and intensity.
Consuming carbs prior to exercise benefits you in the following ways:
Aids in post-workout recovery.
Preserves glycogen stores in the muscles and liver.
Be sure to choose healthy carbohydrates, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Quinoa is a great source of both proteins and carbs.
While carbohydrates are a more immediate source of energy for the body, fats act as a storage system. Remember when we said that glycogen stores are limited? Once they run out, your body can use fat stores for fuel. This is especially important during longer, moderate and low-intensity workouts.
The benefits of consuming fats prior to exercise include:
Aids in satiety, which can help hold you over during your workout.
Helps maintain blood glucose and insulin levels, which helps to stabilize energy.
Provides a “back up” fuel source for your body.
Not all fats are created equal. Choose healthy sources of fat, such as full-fat dairy products, avocados, olive oil, nuts and nut butters.
Pre-Workout Meal Timing
When you eat is also an important aspect of your pre-exercise nutrition.
Eating 2-3 Hours Before Workout
Ideally, you want to eat a normal-sized, balanced meal 2-3 hours before your workout. This will ensure you are getting in a good amount of nutrients, plus you have enough time to digest.
What is a normal sized meal? For men, you want to get around 8 ounces of protein, 4 cups of veggies, 2 cups of fruit and about 2 tablespoons or ounces of fat. For women, you’ll want about half of that: 4 ounces of protein, 2 cups of veggies, 1 cup of fruit and 1 tablespoon or 1 ounce of fat.
Eating 20-60 Minutes Before Workout
Unfortunately, there is not always time to prepare and eat a full on meal, 2-3 hours before we hit the gym. With busy lifestyles, we’re often rushing to the gym first thing in the morning or getting our exercise in right after work.
When you’re cut short on time, don’t skip your pre-workout meal. Instead, have a smaller meal or snack 20-60 minutes before working out. A smoothie or protein shake is a great option for an easily digestible meal close to your workout.
Be sure your liquid meal still contains all of the important nutrients that we’ve discussed above. Your shake might look something like this:
1 cup of water or milk
1 scoop of protein powder
A handful of veggies-- leafy greens are ideal!
A handful of berries
1 tablespoon of peanut butter
What to Eat After Training
Exercise takes a lot out of you. During exercise, your body uses up it’s glycogen stores. Your body even breaks down and damages some of the protein in your muscles. After your workout, your body is in a mode of trying to rebuild and repair those muscles and glycogen stores. Post-workout nutrition aids in this process.
Post-workout nutrition is going to help you:
Just as with pre-workout nutrition, you’re going to want to eat a well-balanced meal consisting of protein, carbohydrates and fats.
Let’s take a look at how each of these nutrients benefits us after a session in the ring:
Consuming an adequate amount of protein after a workout provides your body with amino acids that help to repair and rebuild muscle protein. It also aids in building new muscle tissue.
It’s recommended that sedentary men get anywhere from 40-60 grams of protein, while sedentary women consume around 20-30 grams of protein. Contenders who are regularly active should aim for at least two grams of protein for every pound of body weight. Both protein powders or protein from whole-food sources will do the trick.
Consuming carbohydrates after a workout helps to replenish depleted glycogen stores, which will provide you with some much-needed energy after your training session. It also works with protein to maximize both protein and glycogen synthesis.
Fat is another essential nutrient that you’ll want to add into your post-workout diet. Many people believe that is not good after a workout, as it slows digestion and absorption of nutrients. While this is true, it actually does not inhibit the benefits of carbohydrate and protein consumption. In fact, fats may actually provide their own benefits.
Thus, while you certainly don’t want to miss out on this important nutrient, you may want to limit how much you have. Stick to one or two tablespoons at each meal.
Post Workout Meal Timing
While you don’t have to rush home from the gym and scarf down a meal the moment you get home, you do want to aim to eat within 2 hours following your workout. However, the specifics of your post-workout timing is dependant upon when (and if) you ate your pre-workout meal.
If your pre-workout meal was small or you ate it several hours before your workout, try to get in a post workout meal within an hour of your training session. If you exercised in a fasted state, you’ll want to get in the grub as soon as possible. If you ate a normal-sized, balanced meal a couple of hours before training (like the two scenarios we described above in the pre-workout section above) then you’re probably good for one to two hours following your workout.
Keep in mind, there is no one-specific way to eat pre and post workout. What, when and how you eat will be dependant upon many factors, including your preferences, lifestyle, workout regimen, etc. However, these tips act as a great guideline to follow when planning and prepping your pre and post-workout meals.
You’ll notice the difference fuelling your body the right way makes during your next Gloveworx training session!