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The Importance of Snacks Before and After Training


  • To lose fat, strengthen your muscles, increase your strength and performance, it is crucial to eat the right amount of proteins, fats and carbohydrates every day. A deficiency of one of these macronutrients will have a big impact on your results. If you do not lose weight or do not reach your weight-gain goals, consider changing your diet before and after your workouts. In fact, nutrition is almost more important than training itself.

    First of all, eating is part of the training program. It is neither a choice nor an option. One popular belief is that if you eat less, you will have greater weight loss and better results. This belief is false. Nutrition before and after training is more important than any other meal of the day. On the one hand, if you do not eat before training, you may run out of energy to have optimal performance. On the other hand, if you do not eat after training, you will not maximize your recovery and muscle building. These are key elements for both weight loss and weight gain. Then, there are several reasons you might want to skip the snack before or after the workout. While some think that it will ruin the work they just did and slow down weight loss, others just do not have an appetite.

    Before Training

    A snack or a meal before training will allow you to have the energy to complete your workout and if you skip this step, it will have a negative impact on your performance. Without energy, you will not be able to lift as heavy or perform as well. Eating before training is essential. If doing so is not part of your routine, you will see the difference very quickly. On one side, pre-workout snacks will help reduce muscle protein breakdown, leading to increased muscle growth. Muscle development can only occur if protein production increases. That’s why protein is important! On another side, the body converts glycogen into glucose during training, which plays an important role in muscle contraction. The glycogen reserves must therefore be sufficient to prevent your body running out. If you do not eat carbohydrates to avoid getting fat, here is why they are essential.

    You should eat your snack 30 to 60 minutes before your workout and eat about ½ cup of carbohydrates. Here are some ideas: fruits, whole grains or sweet potatoes. For proteins, try to eat about 20 grams of protein: fish, eggs, legumes, cheese, Greek yogurt or meat. Be mindful of portion sizes.

    After Training

    Your muscles have to refuel and repair themselves after going through your workouts. While pre-workout snacks help increase your energy level, the post-workout ones are meant for recovery. Indeed, to have the energy to do another workout, your muscles must recover the energy lost. Delaying your snack will slow down the recovery process, which can make your next workout very difficult.

    No matter what type of workout you perform, your body will need two essential macronutrients: carbohydrates and proteins. The amount your body needs for each category will vary depending on the type of workout you’ve done: muscle training or cardiovascular endurance training. Carbohydrates will give your muscles energy to move while proteins rebuild and repair muscle tissue. You should aim for a total of 200 calories for a snack after a workout and around 500 calories for a meal. If your goal is to gain weight, you should aim for a 2: 1 ratio of protein to carbohydrates. For those looking for weight loss, the ratio of protein to carbohydrate should be 4: 1.

    Morning Training

    If you are a morning person and exercise in the morning on an empty stomach, it will be important to nibble on a snack after training. In this case, the ideal scenario would be to have a full lunch after your workout. I advise you to have a complete meal rather than a snack AND a meal since it will allow you to reduce the number of calories consumed after the training.

    High-Intensity Training

    If you train for 1 hour at high intensity (e.g. spinning class, cardio + muscle training) and you raise your heart rate, then it will be important to eat a snack after your workout. This snack should be taken 20 to 30 minutes after the end of your workout.

    Low-Intensity Training

    You do not need to eat the second your workout is over. In reality, if you have just done a small 30 minutes of low-intensity training (ex: yoga relaxation) without raising your heart rate too much, you can wait until the next meal. If you feel that you still have a lot of energy after your workout then it is not as urgent to eat. In addition, if you have eaten before training, you can wait to eat until your next meal.

    Snack ideas

    Greek yogurt + berries
    Tuna + crackers
    Cottage cheese + fruits/vegetables
    Oatmeal + protein powder + banana slices + almonds
    Omelet + vegetables
    Lara bar
    Banana + almond butter or apple + peanut butter
    Beef jerky + pear
    Hard-boiled eggs + toast
    Handful of nuts
    Sliced turkey + apple + cheese
    Cheese + crackers/fruits
    Protein shake
    Toast + nut butter + banana
    Sweet potatoes + egg/fish
    Edamames
    Quinoa salad

    Conclusion

    Finally, eating is part of the training program, it is not a choice nor an option. Proper nutrition before and after training will maximize your workout and long-term gains. To achieve results, it is crucial to feed your body appropriately. Otherwise, it will be difficult to see the results. A good place to start is by introducing a snack before and after training in your routine. You will feel that you have more energy during and after the workouts and you will feel fewer aches the next day. So, stop these zero carbohydrate diets and start by feeding your body well with the right amount of macronutrients. For weight loss, you just have to make sure you have a caloric deficit at the end of the day (you have to burn more calories than you eat without being below the basal metabolic rate). However, too much calorie deficit will slow down weight loss. Eating less does not necessarily mean losing weight. To lose weight, you will need to eat healthy AND sufficiently.

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