Pre- and Post-Workout Nutrition, Part 1

A while back Chris and I sent out a request on facebook for material that readers of the Beyond Strength blog would be interested in reading.  Well, this two-part blog is an answer to a request sent in by one Ms. Allurie Kephart, hailing from State College, PA.  In part one, we’ll focus on pre-workout nutrition. 

There is a window of opportunity before exercise to get nutrients into your body.  There is a lot of debate about what the time frame exactly entails, but it is somewhere between 2 hours to 30 minutes prior to exercise.  Some sports nutritionists and coaces are also advocating taking nutrients in during exercise, but that’s another post.  It depends on the individual.  I know that I can take in a pre-workout meal half an hour before I train and also a peri-workout meal while training and I feel great.  Annie, my girlfriend, on the other hand doesn’t tolerate food so closely to training.  So, if you are like me, you can take in a shake before training, during and after.  If you are like Annie, take in your pre-workout nutrition closer to an hour to hour and a half before you train. 

What nutrients?  We want protein and carbs!  Why not fat? Fat reduces gastric emptying, possibly leading to nausea and definitely slowing the carbs and protein from doing their jobs.  Why the protein and carbs?  Protein and carbs in conjuction have shown to dramatically decrease muscle damage during training while also increasing the amount of muscle protein synthesis greatly.  What does this mean?  Your muscles are less damaged, allowing you to recover more quickly and build muscle faster.  Research has also shown that carbs and protein from liquid sources are absorbed better around training.  Whey protein has also shown to be a better protein source than casein protein, due to having a 10-20% higher content of amino acids.  It also digests more quickly, allowing your body to use it faster. 

I’m sure your next question is going to ask how much of each should we ingest.  Great question!  Strength and power athletes, such as powerlifters and olympic lifters need a carb to protein ratio of about 2:1, with protein being about 0.25-0.5 g/kg of body weight.  Team sport athletes (football, basketball, soccer) need a ratio closer of 3:1 and endurance athletes closer to 4:1. 

So, there are the basics on pre-workout nutrition.  Part two will follow soon with post-workout nutrition!

Get Stronger,


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Chris Merritt

Strength Coach/ B.S. Kinesiology, Pennsylvania State University/ FMS/ Functional Range Conditioning Mobility Specialist/ Certified Kettlebell Instructor/ Owner of Beyond Strength Performance and Beyond Strength Performance NOVA

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