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The Complete Guide to Workout Nutrition [Infographic]
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The Ultimate Guide to Workout Nutrition
We’re more concerned than ever with maximizing our workout efforts and getting the fastest results. Effective workouts demand complete nutrition, and these simple guidelines will help make the right choices to refuel the body.
Recovery Time is Critical
Recovery should be thought of as a window of opportunity. Approximately 30 minutes after cardio, the body is optimized to replenish its energy stores— muscle and liver glycogen. For strength training, the window is extended up to two hours post-workout. Muscle protein synthesis occurs, setting off muscle tissue recovery and repair, replacing fluids, and helping the body adapt to the stresses of the workout.
Pre-workout: Building lean muscle requires a ready supply of protein for tissue repair. The more intense your efforts, the more protein you’ll need. Carbohydrates should constitute 75 percent of a pre-workout meal, and protein should constitute 25 percent. Protein must first be broken down into amino acids in order to be used by muscles to repair and build lean tissue. 1-2 hours prior to strength training, consume protein in order to have an adequate reserve for the upcoming workout. The amount of protein required is based on body weight, intensity level, length of workout, and gender. Recent studies suggest taking in around 10-20 grams of high-quality protein within 2 hours after strength training is usually enough to jumpstart recovery and prevent muscle loss.
Pre-workout nutrition for a cardio session requires more carbs than protein. Carbs give you the energy to power through an intense workout. Carbohydrates should constitute 75-10 percent of a pre-workout meal. Carbs are metabolized into glucose (energy) very quickly. Your pre-workout meal should be consumed between 30-60 minutes before hitting the gym. Add protein and fiber to deliver a steadier supply of energy throughout the workout and prevent fatigue resulting from consuming only carbs. Low glycemic index (GI) carbs release sugar into the bloodstream more slowly and tend to contain more essential nutrients like fiber. They are generally optimal to consume 30-60 minutes prior to either a strength training or cardio workout (also good to consume post-workout). Examples include whole foods like whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and beans. High GI carbs release sugar very quickly, providing a quick but brief energy boost. Best to consume before an intense cardio workout, and examples include white bread, white rice, and packaged snacks.
Your pre-workout meal should include low GI carbs to give you the energy you’ll need, and protein-rich foods to store in reserve. Examples include: Egg white omelet with spinach, whole grain toast, and skim or soy milk. Smoothie of protein powder, soy or skim milk, high GI fruits— such as mango, peach, or pineapple— and flax seed. Greek yogurt with banana, walnuts, apples, and honey.
Eat a small snack to help boost blood sugar levels pre-workout, especially if your cardio workout is before your first meal or between meals. Examples include: Whole, mixed grain hot cereal with raisins and walnuts, skim milk, and honey. Scrambled egg whites in a whole grain pita with a sliced apple. Greek yogurt parfait with layers of banana, peaches, and granola. Fruit smoothie made with soy milk, ice, banana, strawberries, and honey or brown sugar.
After a strength training workout, dietary protein is more readily used for muscle building, rather than fat storage. A protein shake or meal within 2 hours of a workout will give your body what it needs to build lean muscle. Although many believe consuming a protein drink during a strength-training workout is best for building muscle, no significant evidence supports this. After a cardio workout, hydration is the main goal. A significant amount of water is lost through perspiration. Pure water is the best source of hydration of the average exerciser. Sports drinks like Gatorade and PowerAde replenish lost electrolytes, but contain large amounts of sugar and calories. Only athletes may need the extra electrolytes that make sports drinks worth the sugar and calories. Generally, the average workout doesn’t demand the extra calories and electrolytes in sports drinks. Coconut water is a great alternative to sports drinks, offering lots of potassium and magnesium, which restores your electrolytes. Also, after a tough cardio session, your energy resources may need replenishing with a carb-rich snack or meal. Post-Workout choices For strength training, protein and carbohydrates are needed after a workout to help repair muscles, replenish the body’s glycogen stores, and prevent muscle soreness. Examples: Chocolate protein shake with protein powder, skim or soy milk, and a banana. Half an avocado stuffed with cottage cheese and tomato. Spinach salad with a sliced chicken breast. Whole foods are the best option because they offer complete nutrition. They provide many micronutrients and essential fiber and help keep you feeling satiated. The best whole food choices contain complete, high-quality protein and provide nearly every essential vitamin and mineral. These include eggs, fish, chicken breast, turkey, low-fat milk, cottage cheese, and Greek yogurt. For cardio, the key is to replace both carbohydrates and electrolytes lost during a workout. Examples: Banana sliced lengthwise and spread with peanut or almond butter. Mango smoothie with mango chunks, vanilla yogurt, ice, and honey. Sliced apple with a handful of walnuts. Whole grains, fruits, and veggies are the best sources of carbs for a workout. Again, whole foods are best, but smoothies and shakes are a good quick fix. One of the best protein-carb combos is chocolate milk. It provides an optimal balance of carbs and protein and is recommended for both strength and cardio training. Chose low-fat to avoid excess fat and sugar consumption. Consume 8 ounces to obtain necessary nutrients after a workout.
What About Nutrition for Circuit Training?
Circuit training, combining strength training with periods of cardio work, requires just a few adjustments. Have your protein 2-3 hours before your workout. 30-60 minutes before your workout, have a carb-rich snack, such as a piece of fruit and slice of toast, or a mango smoothie. Post-workout, drink plenty of water and have a post-strength training meal with an extra carb, such as a piece of fruit. 30-60 minutes after training, replenish with a 3:1 ratio of carbohydrates and protein to ensure adequate muscle repair and recovery. Consume a regular meal 3-4 hours after a workout. The right workout nutrition is very important, but it doesn’t have to be complicated or difficult to fit in. Plan ahead to ensure the body has the right nutrients for fast, adequate recovery.
Comments Leave a comment
This was so helpful, thanks!
You misspelled 'Greatest'.
tons of wrong info on here.
white bread, snackbars are not what you want to eat.
u dont want to be eating grains as they are pro inflammatory, and a good percentage of the population have mild gluten intolerance from typical grains like wheat.
typical protein powders invlude soy, which has lots of problems as a result of being geneticially modified, and non fermented (being a legume),
as well as and pre- broken down amino acids, which also act as neurotransmitters in the body. So when they are pre-broken down and you get a lot of it, the high absorbption in a given amount of time is high, and it messes up your chemical control system.
And with every food, you can turn a good thing into a bad thing depending on what additives there are and what kind of processing it went through. Not a single word on that.
This is great!
This information is outdated and incorrect. New studies have shown that part of the problem in modern diets is an over abundance of carbs and a lack of saturated good fats and proteins. Check out a documentary called "Fathead" which gives facts and studies and proof of the garbage we've been handed about "healthy" eating.
If there's one thing western diets are lacking it is not protein. It is precisely the excess of protein that lies at the root of cancer, stroke, hypertension and heart disease.
There needs to be a print friendly version of this... maybe a pdf.
Maybe I am too conservative in my approach, but I found this info graphic very difficult to read - not regarding the information bits, but the presentation of the information - called info graphic. Sorry. I would have preferred a simple text with more detailed information and with much less - in my opinion superfluous - pictures. But perhaps I am only outdated in my point of view, as I still prefer to read instead of looking at pictures. ;o) This is not a criticism on your work - which is excellent - but a critique on information presentation. And BTW: There will be never be a nutrition recommendation which really fits all - we are all individuals with different genes, different metabolisms, different levels of activity ...
This is just a guide to obesity and chronic health problems, not workout nutrition. Terrible, terrible advice.
G-Who made some great points and your reply was spot on - this isn't a comprehensive guide, and people should tailor it to their needs. For example, my typical post-workout meal is usually my lunch: tofu, egg whites, some veggies and if I've got it, coconut water. But you've got it under pre-workout meal! Whatever works.
Guide to obesity might be a bit harsh Almost anything can make you fat if done in excess and in combination with other factors. Probably the average gym-goer doesn't need as many carbs as suggested, but that all depends on intensity, genetics, metabolism, etc.
This what I call a true InfoGraphic
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Its obvious that the group of you commenting know what you are talking about, thats why you are commenting. It's for those who don't comment, the nutritional clueless. In a way nutrition is and isnt rocket science. With literally a buffet of choices of food out there the combinations are endless. Peoples choices can be based on whats the best for them, personal taste, and effort to prepare. So although we can all point out what we personally think is right and wrong about this informative graph, i commend the person who took to make it. Anything to get more people away from the couch and tv, and off the processed and packaged foods is great. It may not be update or the most ideal information, but it sure does beat the messed up pyramid graph they taught us as kids. I think when it comes to educating people its best not to say do this or dont do that... because the path to nutrition is not the same for all and if we just encourage others to find what works for them. And sometimes not pushing for others to jump into the deep end and make the BEST choices but start with making BETTER choices, they will on their own hunger (no pun intended) to seek out further truths of better or optimal nutrition. Health is our greatest wealth, bless to you all.
Excellent comments. very information this nutrition.
Really great advice, so many different ways to stay healthy for life. Has anyone ever read 4 hour body by Timothy Feriss? Because there are a lot of facts that could be pulled from his research that would only add to this Nutrition guide. For instance, if we perform 90 seconds of exercise before and 30 minutes after we eat, our body releases an enzyme called glut-4 which is responsible for transporting glucose into our cells instead of being stored as fat. There is so much to be learned about the human body and it's great to have blogs dedicated to health. BOOM
This is cool, but some of the info seems outdated. I wouldn't recommend carbs before cardio, for example. Reason? Most people are trying to lose weight, and if you eat carbs before jogging you're gonna be burning the calories from them, not your fat!
Another thing - white bread, white rice and snack bars are all pretty likely to fatten you up. The first two have very high glycemic indexes, and are more or less like eating sugar. Snack bars tend to have lower GIs, but a nasty combination of sugars and fats.
You need carbs to burn fat. Think of it like a candle fat is the wax carbs are the wick, besides if someone is saying they are doing cardio I assume they are training their cardiovascular fitness therefor they are going to have a somewhat elevated HR.
Love the Info-graphic and love, love the graphics on your site in general. Keep up the good work.
wow, this is really awesome! i am a very visual person, so i was really impressed with that aspect of this info. thanks!
Thank you, I love this poster. Nutrition is very confusing these days, so many bloggers and nutritionists say different things.
awesome post ...
Nicely explain by graphic everything clear under the graphic section.
Thank you for the wonderful information. It has become so essential these days to be calories aware.
What a explanation with the help of graphics.. Thank you for the wonderful information.
thanks to give wonderful info with us......