The topic of eating before training is a well-known one. If you eat too much or too much fat (fast food, kebab, knuckle of pork with dumplings and thick sauce, etc.) movement is difficult, and leads like everybody knows to stomach pains and e.g. feeling unwell.
It is therefore very important for an effective training what you eat, and when! Eating nothing is just as wrong as too much, because an empty stomach and empty energy stores increase the risk of injury in sports.
Table of contents:
- When should I eat before training?
- What should I eat before training?
- Eating is good, but don't forget to drink!
- Checklist for food intake before training
- Eating after training
- Post workout meal - 30 minutes after workout
- Carbohydrates, protein or both?!
- Don't forget to drink!
- A secret tip against sore muscles: Fresh ginger
When should I eat before training?
As a general rule: For larger meals of over 600-800 kcal the body needs about 2-3 hours until it is digested and made available as energy. And since the energy for muscles and brain is needed in training, the digestion should consume as little as possible of the energy reserves. However, since everyone implements it differently, and there is hardly a nutritional recommendation that applies to absolutely everyone, it is difficult to specify periods and values that are universally applicable.
I think you can say, however, that it is not ideal to eat larger meals up to 90 minutes before the start of training.
What should I eat before training?
The food intake before training should consist to a large extent of slow complex carbohydrates. As a rule of thumb, about 70% of the calories before training consist of complex carbohydrates such as wholemeal bread, rice, noodles, cereals and vegetables. 15-20% from protein (fish, dairy products, quark, ...). Food should be easily digestible and, above all, low in fat.
The whole point is that complex carbohydrates are converted very slowly into glucose (i.e. sugar) and thus energy, which keeps the blood sugar level at a constant level. One of the aims is to prevent a drop in performance during training.
Simple short-chain sugar or carbohydrate suppliers (e.g. sweets, fruit, fruit juices, white bread, cola, sweets, etc.) should be avoided, since these let the blood sugar level rise very quickly very strongly, but then it falls just as quickly again and you then run out of "air" during training!
Eating is good, but don't forget to drink!
So eating is an enormously important thing before training, but also the fluid intake is not to be neglected! Dehydration quickly leads to a drop in performance during a training session, so it is important to drink enough fluid before training. Since everyone who is asked something else claims, I put here a mean value in the room: Drink at least 0.5 to 1.0 liters of water up to one hour before training!
In general, the body can only absorb a limited amount of water in a certain period of time. The rule of thumb here is 0.25 litres of water per 15 minutes, which the body can process. This means that you should always drink enough throughout the day (2-3 litres per day). During training you should only take small sips, if at all!
In order to correct the performance during training slightly upwards, some nutrition experts also recommend caffeinated drinks such as black coffee or tea , or a short espresso up to 30 minutes before training.
Manufacturers of food supplements also offer so-called pre-workout boosters , which in addition to caffeine partly also contain creatine or taurine (known from RedBull and other so-called energy drinks). If you are not in competitive sports, you can probably do without such aids.
Checklist for food intake before training
- Ideally take large meals 2-3 hours before training.
- Meals before training up to 70% consisting of complex carbohydrates such as whole grain products, pasta or rice.
- Drink sufficient water (min. 0.5 litres) up to one hour before training.
- amino acids from proteins can provide additional energy and support regeneration after training.
Eating after training
The first part dealt with the topic of "eating before training". Now the continuation with "Eating after training"! In addition one should know first of all that the body after a hard training unit almost cries out for nutrients for muscle regeneration. It is said that muscle regeneration starts after 30 to 45 minutes. Therefore you should give your body what it needs in order to create optimal conditions for initiating regeneration.
Post workout meal - 30 minutes after workout
A meal taken immediately after training should be easy to digest and also get into the blood quickly, so that the muscles get to the nutrients quickly. Smoothies and shakes are ideal because they can be processed faster than solid food.
Carbohydrates, protein or both?!
Foods with a high glycaemic index (dextrose/glucose, dates, raisins, cornflakes, mashed potatoes) are particularly suitable for refilling the glucose stores. The carbohydrates increase the blood sugar level and the resulting insoline release is supposed to open the cells for the proteins and the amino acids they contain. Approx. 1.5g carbohydrates per kilogram body weight should therefore be absorbed.
However, since the next training session is usually at least 10-20 hours in the future, carbohydrates are not absolutely necessary to refill the sugar stores, as certainly as already described in Part 1 (Eating before training) before the next training the right food is eaten! A low carb approach (i.e. less carbohydrates, more protein) might make more sense here.
Besides carbohydrates and fats, protein is one of the main nutrients of the human body. Especially competitive athletes, but also recreational athletes have an increased protein requirement, in contrast to non-athletes. The protein requirement for athletes is about 1.1 to 1.5g per kilogram body weight, for bodybuilders even up to 1.8g per kg body weight.
Since proteins are not only needed for regeneration but also for muscle building, and these are not stored for very long in the circulation, it is advisable to regularly consume high-quality protein-rich foods. Here I have compiled a list of appropriate foods (protein-rich foods) so that you can get a rough overview.
Don't forget to drink!
Since you sweat while training (one more, the other less), your body loses water, which you should calmly lead back again immediately after training. Therefore it is recommended to drink at least 0.5 to 1 litre of water after training. If possible, drink non-carbonated water, i.e. still water, to prevent abdominal pain. Also water with taste should be avoided. These are useless calories, but it's better to eat an apple with water! 😉
Note: You know you've drunk enough during the day when the urine is almost clear. The brighter and clearer the better!
A secret tip against sore muscles: Fresh ginger
My secret tip against aching muscles is fresh ginger! Ginger is not only a tasty supplement to sushi, for example, but also promotes blood circulation and lactate degradation in muscle tissue. So you are fit again faster for the next training unit.
Simply cut a slice (about the thickness of a finger) of the ginger tuber and chase it through a garlic press. Put the squeezed juice including the rest into a cup inside the garlic press and brew with 92 degrees hot water. Stir the whole thing from time to time and wait until it has almost completely reached room temperature again. Then drink it! 🙂
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