Fork It Friday: Pre & Post Workout Nutrition
Here’s a loaded question we get asked a lot, “What should I eat before and after the workout?!”
The short, honest answer is, I don’t know. I need a lot more information from YOU.
You see… Nutrition is very, VERY individualized, and while there are a cornucopia of cookie-cutter answers out there, and some of them may or may not work for you, what we really need to figure out is what should YOU be eating before and after a workout, and when?
To answer that, we need a food journal. Argh, but they are such a pain to keep. I know. I get it. Buuuut, if you can discipline yourself for even one whole week, and keep track of EVERY SINGLE ITEM that goes into your mouth, including water, breath mints, and even that unimportant piece of gum.
Write down A) What you ate, B) When you ate it, C) About how much of each item (doesn’t have to be absolutely exact, but best estimates work), and D) How you feel right before you ate, and how you feel right after.
When we look at the journal the end of the week, we can look for patterns, habits, behaviors that you may not even know you are doing! You may suddenly realize that you drink way too much coffee, and not enough water. Or, maybe you’re eating way too many carbs and not enough fats. Or, maybe you’ll notice that you are going for too long between meals, which is why you get tired and angry.
The other thing you may notice and how it effects your workouts. Maybe you’ll suddenly realize that after every morning workout you feel sick after breakfast because you’re loading up on too many sugary items, like coffee creamer, pancakes with syrup, granola and yogurt.
When you keep a food journal, you can then start trying new things and seeing how they work for you. BUT, make sure you only do ONE change each time, and do it for at least two weeks to see if it actually has any negative or positive effect on you.
Maybe since you workout at 5:00am, you don’t eat or drink anything before the workout, but always feel sluggish and weak during the WODs. So, maybe you want to try to get up 15 minutes earlier this week, and try to eat a banana or drink a cup of black coffee, and see how you feel then during the workouts. Keep track in your journal.
One change. Keep track. Then add or delete one more thing. Keep track.
I kept a food journal way back when I did a strict Paleo challenge, and I stuck with it for two months. I learned that strict 100% Paleo does not work well for me and my sports performance. I need white rice, white potatoes, bread, etc. I actually do well with those things in moderation in my diet. I have way more energy and fuel. That is not the case for many others, though, so I do NOT suggest my diet to anyone else, because it works for ME and my needs, my lifestyle, my training.
There is no magic pill, and no one-right-way to diet.
If you really want to figure out what to eat and when before and after a workout, start with a food journal. And, start working closely with your coach!
Hope this helps!