Have you ever Googled Pre or Post Workout and been flooded with information overload and contradiction? This is an area that can easily get confusing. Truth is the confusion comes because there’s no “one size fits all”. We’re all working out at different levels, at different times of the day, with different eating schedules, and not to mention the differences in our diets.
there are a few principles that are universal and you should take into consideration. So, lets talk nutrition for a second.
I know, I know. Most of the food I post here is “Paleo”, which is inherently a low carbohydrate diet. Which is why I’m bringing up this point right from the get go. We need carbs. Carbohydrates are an essential macro nutrient that refuels your muscles. The Paleo diet isn’t really a low-carb diet, it’s just lower than the American Standard Diet overloaded with processed sugar, i.e. carbs. There’s a fine line where too many carbohydrates can lead to your body storing those extra carbs for the future, and too few carbs leads to fatigue and “hitting the wall”. This is where you need try a few different things and listen to your body. Yep, that’s right, be your own body expert. Keep reading, and after we talk about a couple more principles I’ll discuss how to find your own sweet spot on adding the right amount of carbs, just stick with me.
Protein contains the building blocks of muscle, i.e. amino acids. It’s really important in our diets, especially for muscle recovery and energy. When the body runs out of carbohydrates it either turns to fatty acids or amino acids to provide energy. During high-intensity training the process of using fatty acids can be too slow, so the body instead breaks down amino acids (found in protein) and converts them to sugars. This process is known as gluconeogenesis. Yes, this means your body can break down muscle to be used for energy. If you already have amino acids in your blood stream from your diet you will have an adequate supply and your muscles will be preserved. Some people eat more carbs to maybe prevent gluconeogenesis.
Fat provides our bodies energy, is used for maintaining proper nerve and brain function, is needed for healthy skin and other tissues, and transporting fat-soluble vitamins through the bloodstream. Fat has a few other functions, but I’m not going to dive into those. When our bodies use fat as energy the process is typically too slow to be utilized during and immediately after working out. Which is why pre and post workouts generally focus on protein and carbohydrates. Hopefully you’re starting to understand that all 3 macro nutrients provide energy, our bodies just have different ways of storing and utilizing it all.
So now that you’re set with the basics of macro nutrient principles lets talk pre and post workouts.
Going into a workout you need enough macro nutrients in your system to power you so you don’t hit the wall, or feel sick. If you have eaten a regular meal 15 – 75 minutes before working out you might not need a “pre workout” at all. If you workout first thing in the morning before breakfast you need to eat a pre workout meal. If you’ve ever felt any of these symptoms during your workouts you most likely need a pre work of some sort:
– light headedness
– feeling like you need to throw up
– feeling like you might pass out
– loss of extreme energy (hitting the wall)
– muscle cramping
I workout first thing in the morning, which means I need to put something in my stomach, or I will (and have many times) crash during my workout. This is one of the most tricky times of day because I have a hard time eating when I first wake up. My best advice is to try a few different things until you find something that works for you.
Try eating ½ – 1 banana, a protein bar, or fruit and nut bar. And make sure you’re eating it with water. Now is an excellent time to start hydrating.
For me, I tried all those lighter snacks for a long time. But I had a hard time hacking it down early in the morning. A few months ago Rootz Nutrition sent me a sample of their pre workout, and turns out it was a game changer for me. I mix it with 8oz of water and chug it down. About 15 min into my workout I can feel a slight energy boost that powers me through until I’m finished. I’ll admit I loved this stuff so much I wrote them an email and said I’d love to collaborate on a sponsored post using their products because I’d love to share what I’ve learned.
Not all pre workouts are made the same. Make sure you check your ingredients and do a search on anything ingredient you’re not sure of. I love the clean ingredient list in the Rootz blend. I’ll admit, my experience with a few different pre workouts has been the cleaner the ingredient list the worse they taste. But tastes change, and I don’t mind Rootz’ pre workout at all. The fact that it’s light and not something heavy bouncing around in my stomach is everything. Click on any of the links to find purchasing details. Yes, I am a Rootz affiliate and earn a tiny commission when you purchase (this in no way changes your purchase price).
If you’re interested in trying Rootz products make sure you enter wholefork as a coupon code and you’ll receive 10% off your entire order. They’re also running a deal right now where if you sign up for their subscription service you’ll receive an ongoing discount of 15%. As a side note, if you’re interested in becoming a Rootz affiliate check out their program Here.
In short, everyone needs a post workout meal. You need to refill your depleted carbohydrate stores and for muscle recovery you need protein. This also puts amino acids in your blood stream so the process of gluconeogenesis won’t go after your hard earned muscles. Go for easily digestible things so these macro nutrients will hit your blood stream as fast as possible. Keep in mind fruit isn’t the ideal main post workout carbohydrate. Think of carb dense vegetables, or whole grains like rice, oatmeal etc. It’s better to eat this meal immediately following exercise, so I like to eat something fast like overnight oats. Check out my recipe for Double Chocolate Overnight Oats. They’re ready to eat right out of the fridge.
I also love the Rootz Nutrition Paleo Protein-Superfood. I blend it up with a few extra ingredients to make an entire meal out of it, see my recipe below.
I’m curious, do you pre workout? What do you use? I also know many readers are from the Whole30 community, and I’m interested in knowing if you’re currently doing a Whole30, or living your life after Whole30 and looking for clean, balanced meals? Let me know in the comments!
- 8 oz almond milk
- 1 banana
- 2 scoops Rootz Paleo Protein-Superfood
- 1 Tbsp cacao powder
- 1-2 Tbsp nut butter of choice
- 1 handful of ice
- Put all ingredients into a blender and pulse until fully combined and ice is broken down to a smoothie consistency. Add more ice to thicken if you like.