The meals that you consume around the workout window are undeniably the most important meals that you will consume in a day for performance and recovery. Whether you follow a meal plan or a flexible dieting approach, if optomising your time in the gym is a priority, we would recommend designing those meals before any others in your day.
Below, we will address some general guidelines as to how we would advise setting up your peri-workout nutrition and why.
Your solid meal prior to a workout should be something that sits easy on the stomach and will not make you feel heavy or unwell during training. For example, white fish will digest much easier than steak for most people. This will come down to a lot of trial and error to find what works best for you and your body. This is also potentially a time that advanced trainees might want to take a digestive enzyme and/or a glucose disposal agent to better utilise the nutrients.
Carbs and protein should be the focus of this meal, with some fat to slightly slow down the digestion of the meal and prevent a mid session crash. An example might be; chicken, rice and peanut butter, or ground rice, protein powder and dark chocolate.
In regards to supplements, a well dosed pre-workout can make all the difference. Key ingredients include caffeine (although be mindful of the time of day you are training), beta alanine and citrulline malate.
Intra-workout supplementation is finally beginning to get the attention that it deserves. Across sports, we would recommend using a combination of EAAs and Cyclic Dextrin as your base. From here, the possibilities are endless to tailor a cocktail based around your own training style and needs.
Drinking your carbs may seem a scary prospect to anyone who isn't consuming an uncomfortable amount throughout the day, but by utilising the techniques we will discuss, it shouldn't have any detriment to satiety, and will massively outweighed by the improvements it will yield in the gym. Half a serving (25g) can be used for females or low carb dieters, up to 50+g for individuals who can handle more carbs.
For those who have had uncomfortable experiences with maltodextrin and/or dextrose in the past- not to worry. As the name implies, cyclic dextrin is a ringed structure, unlike other, linear carb molecules. The way that cyclic dextrin is broken down avoids bloating and insulin spikes. It will not create any GI stress, will bring EAAs into the muscles faster and more efficiently, mixes easily and will enhance muscle glycogen stores for better pumps, energy and performance. Basic and brilliant- what's not to love?
Essential Amino Acids (EAAs) contain 9 amino acids, including the 3 BCAAs, all of which the body cannot produce itself. As amino acids do not function independently, and the whole spectrum is required for them to carry out their function, it makes sense that EAAs are the superior choice over BCAAs, and why many supplement companies are now choosing to release them over BCAA products.
We would recommend this stack for both resistance and endurance athletes.
Most of your carbohydrates should be in this meal, along with protein (split protein across the day) and as little fat as possible to ensure quick update and glycogen replenishment.
Recovery shakes can be a useful tool if you have to wait much over an hour or so before you can prepare and eat a meal, but are not essential.
Carb sources: white rice, potato, bagels, oats
Protein sources: chicken, white fish, whey isolate, lean turkey mince
By following these hacks, the majority of carbohydrates will be positioned around training sessions, as this is when we can utilise them the most. High fat meals can be used away from sessions to keep us full and for better blood sugar control.