You want the best results possible from your hard work at the gym, and diet and nutrition can play a huge role in achieving those results. Give the following eating pattern a try for your next few strength training workouts and assess whether it makes a difference for you.
What and when to eat, pre-workout
Is it best to exercise on a full stomach or is it better to fuel your body? This can depend on whether you’re doing cardio or lifting weights. For strength training it can be best to eat something 1-2 hours before a workout to increase your session endurance, however you won’t want something heavy sitting in your stomach while you’re deadlifting. A small meal or snack that has a good balance of protein and carbs will be easily digested but should keep you going on those extra reps – think eggs on toast for breakfast, crackers with peanut butter or a banana and protein shake if you’re exercising after work. These will keep your glucose at a sustainable level so you don’t feel the desire to call it quits halfway through your session.
What and when to eat, post-workout
If you ate before your workout as above this will give you some extra time post-workout to find some good food to refuel your body – somewhere between half an hour to an hour after your weights session is believed to be best. The focus here is first on finding carbohydrates to restock your body’s glycogen levels, such as eating an apple on the drive home, then following that with protein to assist in the building and repair of muscle. An ideal post-workout meal could be a chicken and brown rice dinner, or a yoghurt with muesli if you’re working out in the morning. Just remember to limit this to a normal-sized meal unless you’re actively looking to gain weight. Of course, you’ll also want to keep your body hydrated with plenty of water before, after and during your session depending on your personal preference. Planning ahead will help keep you on track and feeding your body what it needs to look and feel great!
There’s no hard and fast rule when it comes to the right foods
There can be lots of confusing and conflicting information out there about diet and nutrition, and there isn’t one ‘perfect’ diet for everyone. It’s important to listen to your own body and adjust your nutrition to suit if you’re having any lags in stamina, strength or energy. If you do feel like you need extra support or guidance, we would strongly suggest arranging to visit a dietitian or sports nutritionist who can point you in the right direction.