Pre + Post Workout Nutrition

Is pre and post workout nutrition that serious? If you don’t drink a protein shake within 20 minutes of your workout, will you lose all those gains? 

So many people wonder what to eat around a workout, and rightfully so! We see and hear so much online about getting the perfect amount of protein and carbs in the right eating window after a workout. Because of the information spewed onto the interweb, most people think that if they miss their pre or post workout protein shake or don’t eat in the right window of time, all of their progress is going to dwindle away to nothing. 

For bodybuilders, endurance athletes, and other competitors, the nitty gritty of nutrition surrounding training gets a little more in depth and specific. 

But, for a person who works out as a hobby, for fun, or just to feel good, there’s no reason to overthink and overcomplicate this part of your nutrition! What matters to us, as coaches, is that our clients are focusing on nutrient-dense, quality whole foods throughout their day and around their workouts.

Why does nutrition surrounding your workouts and day matter?

Proper nutrition for individuals who workout matters because it provides us with adequate energy to get through daily tasks and physical activity, allows us the proper nutrients to promote recovery, aids in muscle growth and development, can help support healthy weight and weight loss, and allows us to move and live better. 

Below we will go over scenarios, and how to tackle your nutrition around your workouts. The advice below pertains to weight training and would look different for running!

  1. Working out first thing in the morning.

When working out without food in your body first thing in the morning, it would be appropriate and recommended to drink a protein shake before your workout. A good rule of thumb would be to get a serving of protein (ex: protein shake) before your workout, then eat a balanced meal within 1-2 hours (1-2 palm sized servings of protein, 1-2 cupped handfuls of carbs, 1 fist of veggies, 1 thumb of fat) after your workout. Check out this blog from Precision Nutrition for more info on hand portions.

  1. Training after you’ve already eaten during the day, and 2-3 Hours Before a Workout

When eating a few hours from a workout aim to eat a well-balanced, mixed macronutrient meal. This would be 1-2 palm sized servings of protein, 1-2 cupped handfuls of carbs, 1-2 fist of veggies and 1-2 thumbs of fat depending on your needs. 

  1. 1 Hour or Less Before a Workout

When eating close to a workout you may want to opt for lower fats, fast digesting carbs, and quality protein. We love to make smoothies and shakes, simply because we find it easier to digest! Want to know our favorite smoothie recipes? Click here. 

If you’re not a smoothie fan, no biggie. Just opt for something you know you digest well! Lower fiber options usually work well for most people. You don’t want an upset stomach before having to train!

If you’re someone who has a lot of carbs to get into your day, stacking a good amount around your workouts makes the most sense. For some people, higher fats before a workout can cause GI distress (aka triggering upset stomach and bowel movements). If this is you, limit your fats pre workout. 

  1. After a Workout

1-2 hours after your workout, it is great to take the same approach you did pre workout! Depending on your needs, aim for 1-2 palm sized servings of protein, 1-2 cupped handfuls of carbs, 1-2 fists veggies, 1-2 thumbs of fat. 

To sum it all up…

Focus on eating balanced meals throughout your day that contain each macronutrient. Listen to your hunger cues, because some days you may need more food than other days. Making sure you don’t go more than 3 hours without eating will help you feel best for your workouts and maximize your results. While nutrient timing has been heavily marketed by influencers and supplement companies, it’s actually outdated advice. What matters most is getting your carbs, fats, and protein in each day and if you miss a post workout shake… it will all be okay.


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