"SJ, what's Peri-Workout Nutrition?"
Peri-workout nutrition is a term for your pre-workout, intra-workout and post-workout nutrition.
There's hundreds of different opinions out there when it comes to what you should and shouldn't eat before, during and after a workout... the majority of which are BS.
When discussing peri-workout nutrition the #1 factor to keep in mind is that your peri-workout nutrition should be tailored to your goals.
If you're looking to shred fat and are not overly concerned about the retention or growth of muscle mass you're going to be shooting yourself in the foot should you choose a carbohydrate heavy pre-workout meal.
To the guy looking to bulk up and build strength this may be ideal. But not for you.
This is why you shouldn't not follow any old peri-workout nutrition plan on the internet.
When it comes to pre-workout nutrition I've experimented with everything, supplements, different macronutrient breakdowns and durations before commencing my workout...
The biggest takeaways from my experiments in the pre-workout department are as follows:
If you're after laser-like focus you're best training fasted.
If the main focus is on putting up a few extra pounds or reps on compound lifts have a small meal containing protein and carbohydrates prior to your workout.
There's a trade-off... focus and energy are at an all time high when training with nothing other than a black coffee.
Strength at the cost of workout intensity is increased with a small dose of carbohydrates 45~ minutes before training.
In a bulking phase? Eat some carbs before your workout! I recommend a 1/4 cup of rolled oats with a sliced banana and a drizzle of honey.
In a cutting phase or just training for athleticism and endurance? Train fasted with a double espresso.
Branch Chain Amino Acids assist in preventing the breakdown of muscle when training fasted, if you’re performing cardio first thing in the morning (provided you haven’t eaten for 6~ hours prior) you’ll be in an optimal zone to burn fat, however you run the risk of muscle breakdown too.
Supplementing with Branch Chain Amino Acids such as these are the solution for your fasted cardio.
BCAA's aren't exclusively for intra-workout nutrition, if you're in a aggressive caloric deficit I recommend sipping on some branch chain aminos pre-w0rkout too.
Although they can be costly (therefore I don't recommend them to everyone!) BCAA's do make a noticeable difference in terms of endurance during longer workouts, particularly when cutting.
Instead of fading towards the end of my workout I'm able to continue to keep up with the prescribed weight and number of reps I'm hitting.
Optional: Sip on branch chain amino acids (BCAA's) during your workouts.
When it comes to dieting it's said that your post workout nutrition is the most important factor.
With the 'anabolic window' being a short period of time after your workout that you MUST give your muscles the protein and carbohydrates that they’re crying out for…
If you’ve read bodybuilding magazines, been on fitness forums or spoken to other gym-goers about dieting, the subject of post workout meals, shakes and supplements has no doubt reared its head.
“if you don’t get in a shake after your workout you wont make any gains…”
“You lose muscle if you don’t eat a meal within an hour of training!”
“It’s essential you get in some whey protein isolate as soon as you finish the last set of your workout”
There’s a ton of wild, absurd and downright ridiculous claims out there, all relating to your physique and your strength taking a tumble for the worse if you don't smash a steak or protein shake immediately after you finish training…
In an attempt to separate broscience and actual research with marketing I spent a period of time trying it all…
Skipping my post workout meal and fasting through to the afternoon (I train at 5am in the morning)
Eating a large protein and carbohydrate whole food meal straight after training
Drinking a generic protein shake (containing 50g of whey protein concentrate)
Drinking the most expensive hydrolized whey protein concentrate I could find
And here’s what I found…
It didn’t really make much of a difference at all.
When I didn’t have a post workout meal until many hours later I found my recovery to be a bit slower, I’d wake up a bit sorer but I certainly wouldn’t lose any muscle or immediately hit a plateau.
When I had a full meal, a generic whey protein concentrate shake or an overly priced hydrolized whey protein concentrate shake it really didn’t make much difference.
I decided to ditch the full meal immediately after my workout as starting the day with a full stomach leaves me feeling unproductive and lethargic – not exactly what I want at 6:30am with a full day of ass kicking ahead of me.
I ditched the hydrolized whey protein isolate as not only did it taste awful but the cost per serve (for what I deemed to be no tangible benefit over generic whey protein concentrate) just wasn’t there.
For cost, convenience and taste my current post-workout shake at 6:30am in the morning consists of:
- 2 scoops of whey protein concentrate
- 1 cup Finely ground oats
- 1 cup Blueberries
- 1 tbsp. Honey
A healthy dose of protein and carbohydrates within 2 hours of putting down the weights.
It tastes damn good too!
There's no need to speed home to get your post-workout meal in before the anabolic window closes! Focus on hitting your caloric and macronutrient goals on a per 24 hour basis...