There is a lot floating around the blog-o-sphere regarding fuel, aka food, before and after runs but what about strength training?
Does it not deserve a conscious effort to help make us stronger, leaner, better?
I thought so too.
Aside from post workout protein shakes, how should you fuel your body to handle the strain put on by lifting weights?
I remember when the whole weight lifting world was foreign to me. The clothes (soffe shirts and oversized t-shirts aren’t ideal I later learned), the equipment, and the reaction it had on my body.
I had no idea if what I was doing was right, I just crossed my fingers and prayed I was moving in the right direction.
That was 10 years ago, now I no longer have to cross my fingers. Studying and experimenting have allowed me to know a thing or two about this whole lifting weights thing, especially for women!
I really have to give thanks to my first (and only) figure show for helping me learn the most in the fastest amount of time.
Fueling For Weights
Have you ever gone into your strength workout, knowing you’re well rested, yet you just don’t have the juice to accomplish what you know you can? A dumbbell you were practically tossing around last week now feels as if the ground won’t let go of it.
Let’s call it the “Weight Lifter’s Bonk”. Like a runner, we hit the wall. We can’t do another rep even though we know damn well that we should.
Ever been there? I have!
Let’s make sure it doesn’t happen again.
You need two things to have a strong workout (pun intended).
–> Carbs (Sugars)
Why not fat? We will get there in a quick second.
Don’t Skip Out On Eating
When it comes to fueling for a workout, you want energy! Those people that say it’s a great idea to workout on an empty stomach… I can’t agree with them.
“They” say that by working out on an empty stomach your body will use fat for fuel. I say, workout on an empty stomach, you’ll last only 15 minutes before you feel tired, cranky, and over it.
Just like a car needs gas in the tank, you do as well.
That doesn’t mean you have to eat right before, for some early morning risers, eating a pre-workout meal right before bed can still provide energy in the morning.
This has happened to me on more than on occasion and it sucks!
Eat Simply Carbs
Yes, part of why I workout hard is so I have a decent excuse to eat bread.
Carbs are the fastest of the macro-nutrients to break down and provide energy. They will give you that initial jolt to get you going.
Foods like fruit (bananas are great); sprouted bread, dates, juice, oatmeal… just a few.
One serving is plenty! If you’re working out for a long time, make sure that you’re eating some carb snack every hour or so. Personally, jelly beans are my favorite for workout snacks.
Eat Your Protein
Vega – One of my favorite vegan proteins!
When you’re working your muscles hard, they are going to open their front doors to protein.
Protein is going to help muscles recover, build, and get stronger!
Before a workout, it’s best to go with a protein that is light on the stomach (no steaks) and easy to digest like yogurt, protein powder, and eggs.
Keep in mind that the body can only absorb so much protein at a time, so there isn’t any need to get carried away. A perfect dose of protein is around 18 grams.
If you have a great protein snack right before grabbing your kettlebell, then there really isn’t much need for a post workout snack. BUT, if you didn’t pre-load up, then getting a high dose of protein within 30 minutes of finishing your workout is ideal.
It should be easy to digest and to absorb. This is where the benefits of protein shakes come in. The body barely has to do any work to get them through the digestive tract.
Fast food for the muscles!
Avoid The Fatty Stuff
Now, normally I am all about getting in tons of healthy fats each day. But not right before or right after a workout when you want your body to absorb as many nutrients as fast as possible…
Fat slows protein digestion which is great for keeping you full but not great when you’re trying to fuel your muscles.
What are some examples?
Nut butters & Nuts
Fish (salmon, sardines)
My Favorite Workout Fuels
Protein shakes: SunWarrior, Basic Greens, Almond Milk, Ginger (great for inflammation), and 1/2 Banana. Delicious!
Hard boiled eggs
Coconut Milk Yogurt With Granola
Pink Lady Apples
What about you… do you eat before a workout? What?