By Jake Boly, Staff Writer
For the normal gym-goer there is a topic that is brought up and debated very often, that is pre- and post-workout nutrition. Everyone has their own theory as to what works and how to use it. I'm not here to give a set answer that can be deemed right or wrong. I'm only here to bring new ideas to the table.
I don't want to waste much time on the common-sense aspects such as meal size, what food you consume, how much you should drink, etc. These are all aspects that you can cater for yourself. If someone tells me I need a certain amount of food but it makes me uncomfortable, why would I eat? Don't get caught up with recommendations if they don't fit your needs exactly. Cater the common-sense aspects to allow you to perform optimally, not to stress you out or make you over-think.
Pre-workout nutrition, believe it or not, is more important than post-workout. Our bodies are burning and using food, energy and nutrients throughout the whole day. The food and nutrients we use while we train are more important than those after. While working out our body is undergoing protein synthesis and using the existing energy at hand to let us perform optimally. These are the nutrients that are most important; the nutrients our bodies are using at the moment. Keep in mind that fasting has also been shown to have benefits, so just how important are these meals?
Post-workout nutrition is important, don't get me wrong. Although, the supposed anabolic window that only lasts 30 minutes after a workout is often blown out of the water. After a strength training session the anabolic window has been found to be 24-plus hours. Those expensive protein shakes that make all of the magic claims are great in theory, but realistically do you think an hour of time difference between a meal will matter? There is an exception: post-workout nutrition has been proven to have benefits for athletes training multiple times a day.
What is important when it comes to pre- and post-workout nutrition isn't special timing or spiking your insulin. The most important aspect to focus on for someone trying to progress in training, weight, or fitness is achieving your daily calories and macronutrients. Instead of stressing about eating a meal 30 minutes directly after, focus on consuming foods that will fulfill your macronutrients while also nutrient dense.
A short note about spiking insulin post workout: yes, it has a very small effect, but it's subjective to how well each person's body responds. Also, the GI (glycemic index) number doesn't always directly correlate with the insulin response. If you're going to incorporate a food that will spike your insulin post-workout, do your research and base your actions off of science, not supplements making a dubious claim.
Last note on pre- and post-workout nutrition: these meals can be deemed as more important than the rest, so use common sense and make smart choices. Don't act off of claims; act off of science and factual proof. Be consistent with your macronutrients and calories and you will achieve goals.