You’ve probably wondered how to make the most out of your time at the gym, or you wouldn’t be reading this. One of the pillars of success in fitness is eating right for exercise. This means eating the right foods, at the right times, to get the best possible workout. You shouldn’t be showing up to the gym starving, or totally stuffed. You should be properly hydrated, and you shouldn’t be feeling hungry or weak by the end of a training session.
When you’re eating can make a huge impact on your workouts. You should be having some sort of meal one to two hours prior to your workout, or a light snack about 45 minutes before. A snack containing some mix of protein and carbohydrates during that one to two hour window is ideal, since it will give your muscles fuel for endurance (carbs) and building blocks for new muscle (protein). A great meal to have 2 hours before your workout is a chicken breast with half a cup each of rice and broccoli. This will give you the fuel you need without any excess for a great workout. If you are following a low-carb diet, just getting the protein and vegetables will help to ensure that your body does not break down muscle, so you will still benefit from this.
After the workout, you should have a mix of protein and carbs in about a 1:2 ratio within the first hour in order to optimize your recovery. The carbohydrates prevent your body from breaking down protein for recovery fuel, and the protein will help your body grow new muscle as effectively as possible. A shake with a banana, handful of strawberries, and some protein powder will meet your post workout needs, as will a Quest or Power Crunch bar from the front desk at CSC. Again, post workout solely protein is also acceptable if you are dramatically reducing your carbohydrate intake. The Pure Protein shakes we sell at the front desk could work well for you.
Just establishing these two habits can make a big difference in your results at the gym by improving your energy pre-workout and your recovery post-workout. Having done these, you can do a few more things to ensure the best results. Make sure you’re adequately hydrated – drink at least 16oz of water (8 fills of those little cone cups we keep by the bubblers) per hour of physical activity, more if your shirt is typically drenched after your workout. You should also drink half an ounce of water per pound of bodyweight – a 150 pound person will need about 8 full glasses of water per day.
Some foods can make a big impact on your recovery too. Dark leafy green vegetables are high in magnesium, which will help somewhat with your post workout soreness, especially when you eat a lot of them before bed. Cucumbers, celery, and coconut oil are all good anti-inflammatory foods which can help reduce joint pain. And lastly, fish and flax seeds are great sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which are wildly beneficial in reducing inflammation and improving your post-workout recovery.
If you still want to take your workout preparation even further, a pre-workout supplement like SFH Push may be perfect for you. It contains some caffeine to boost your energy levels, and BCAAs (Branched Chain Amino Acids) which convert easily into fuel for our muscles to recover and rebuild as quickly as possible during and after the workout. If you drink this thirty minutes prior to your workout, the caffeine will hit you just in time to get started, and the BCAAs will hit your bloodstream about halfway through your workout for optimal fuel levels. We sell it at the front desk of CSC in single serving packets, so if you want to give it a try you can do so for about three dollars.