Pre & Post Workout Fuel

How Should I Fuel Pre/Post Workout?

As a Crossfit community we are all clear regarding the importance of exercise and training, but how much do we know about fueling our bodies pre and post workout?

Fueling your body pre and post workout will have a significant effect not only on performance, but also on recovery, sustainability, body composition, sleep and all round mood (No-one likes a hangry crossfitter). The following blog will outline the importance of fueling and touch upon the perception and understanding of natural resources vs supplements.

When considering your pre and post workout fuel there are 5 components to consider-

  • What am I training for? Competition, weight loss, muscle gain, social interaction or body maintenance
  • What time do I train? First thing in the morning, middle off the day, right before a night shift or just before bed
  • Natural vs supplement… whey protein vs a natural source like chicken or fish
  • Body type, are you able to endure caffeine or do you have a intolerance to gluten
  • Taste – what tastes good to you

Pre Workout

The common perception when hearing the term pre workout is a scoop with bright colored powder in, or a meme with a person in the gym who is all excited and ready to go. This is not the case. A simple break down of pre workout fuel components is hydration, carbs ad amino acids. When discussing carbohydrates it is important that we remember they are our friend. We store carbohydrates in our bodies as glycogen, of which is stored within our muscles and liver. When exercising we use glycogen as our fuel, and as the intensity increases we require more of this energy source. Knowing the right carbs to eat and how much will play a key role in its support as fuel to your workout. Amino acids are the building blocks of muscle tissue, so it is imperative that we have have these in our system before working out. Should we not have this our body will break down the muscle tissue and have no tools to repair it with. This means your body goes into a catabolic state and eats away at your hard earned muscle mass.

Pre-workout supplements can be discussed at length and to many hold both pros and cons. Each coach and athlete will have a different perception on whether it is a good idea or effective and preach what effectively works for them. When discussing such supplements, we must remember that we are all different, and our bodies will react uniquely to what we put into our systems. While some pre workouts do have carbs, the majority don’t. They are carb and calorie free, so the question is what is it that is fueling your body? Caffeine, beetroot juice and creatine monohydrate are all common ingredients to pre workout and have be shown to enhance performance. Caffeine will improve alertness and energy, therefore in theory it will enhance your capacity to exercise with regard to effort output and endurability. Beetroot juice, is a component that is slightly less studied within the field, in regards to its effects within pre workout. However, relevant studies have shown the effects of increased levels of nitric oxide which is proven to enhance cardiovascular performance. A natural vasodialator, nitric oxide expands the bodies bloody vessels, increasing blood flow and decreasing how hard the heart has to work during any given workout. Creatine the final component to discuss is a derivative of 3 amino acids and is naturally produced by the body and stored in the body as a quick source of energy. While many studies support that such supplement will assist in increasing muscle strength and mass, creatine has also come under fire for being a cause of fluid retention causing bloating and dehydration.

Post Workout

When discussing post workout, something that consistently gets underestimated is rest and sleep. To keep it short and sweet, simply put an ideal amount of sleep to get in order to perform out our peak is 7-9 hours.

To perform at our best, we will need a combination of carbohydrates and protein in our post workout meal to cover all aspects of recovery. The carbohydrates will replenish the glycogen stores, and our protein source will support the repair of damaged muscle, and growth of new muscle.

Now this is a generic blog, however, most literature agrees on a range between 20 to 30g of protein post-workout depending on your size, lean muscle mass, gender, genetics, etc.

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