"What's the best pre-workout meal?" "What's the best post-workout meal?"
These are the two most common questions I get in programs I give in health clubs and gyms.
Of course, opinions differ but here's what I've learned from the best . . .
You can go with whole foods or with a protein shake. Either way, you want to get .25 grams of protein and .25 grams of carbohydrate per pound of body weight in this first most important meal of the day. So, you weigh 175 pounds, for example. you want to get 44 grams of protein and 44 grams of carbohydrate before going to the gym.
Best whole food choices include egg whites, chicken and turkey breast for protein and whole-wheat bread, oatmeal, brown rice or a sweet potato for carbohydrates.
If you don't have time for whole food, go with a protein shake that includes a fast-digesting form of protein like whey or egg protein. Either way, get the .25 grams of protein and .25 grams of carbohydrate in this first meal. My first meal of almost everyday is hot oatmeal and Syntha-6 protein powder (by BSN). Add a little flaxseed, a teaspoon of coconut oil, and some Stevia sweetener -- it's the best meal of my day!
Before getting to the gym, I also take Arginine as a pre-workout supplement. This boosts nitric-oxide levels and causes blood vessels to dilate, which allows them to deliver more nutrients for muscle-building during the workout. I take it in the form of White Flood and start drinking it in a pre-workout drink about 30 minutes before arriving at the gym. I take this along with 5 grams of Creatine (in the same workout drink) which helps drive fluids to your muscles providing a bigger pump and the ability to lift more weight longer.
After your workout you want to get another .25 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight and .25 to .50 grams of fast-acting carbohydrate per pound of body weight. Depending on whether I am bulking or cutting, I vary between .25 and .50 grams of carbohydrate per pound of bodyweight I am carrying at the time. Again, lean chicken, turkey, egg whites are the best sources of protein. Fast acting carbohydrates include fruit, fruit juice, even iced tea with sugar added. I usually eat Ezekiel toast with jelly on it to add fast-acting carbs.
If you take a protein shake after your workout rather than whole food, I suggest using whey and adding a slow-digesting protein like casein to it. This will help repair muscle tissue broken down in your workout. Mix dextrose or fructose or some other form of sugar in the protein shake in order to get the fast-acting carbs.
After my workout, I take 5 or more grams of BCAA's (branch chain amino acids) in tablet form. These also help in muscle recovery. And, finally, I often take another 5 grams of creatine post-workout.
That's it. And it rarely varies day to day.
Train hard; diet harder!