The Best Pre Workout Meal and Post Workout Meal
These are the secrets behind getting the most out of your workouts!
By Travis Wade
Back in the day, the best pre-workout meal and post-workout meal were pretty straight forward. We used carbohydrates for energy and would bring fast acting carbs in the form of sugar to the gym to get us through the workout. Now the best pre-workout meal and the best post-workout meal are a little more complicated.
There are ways to improve our metabolism, including a ketogenic diet, intermittent fasting, and fasting. Those strategies are beneficial but complicated to incorporate into pre-workout and post-workout. I will talk a little about those strategies but please read my articles on these subjects before attempting them.
In this article, I will focus on the best pre-workout meal and supplements, how to supplement during a workout, and the best post-workout meal. We have different options for bulking up, cutting weight, or for elite high-intensity athletes.
The Best Pre-Workout Meal and Supplements
If you need to perform like Mike Tyson’s opponent, then you will need a carb-load. High-intensity professional athletes will have a hard time getting enough carbohydrates to keep their performance levels high. Having a carb-load before, and after intense exercise is crucial for elite high-intensity athletes.
Carbohydrates are said to be the second most effective legal ergogenic aid (performance enhancer). Carbs are remarkable for bulking up as well. Eat healthy carbs about 2-3 hours before a workout depending on how fast your metabolism is. The carbs have to leave the stomach, get absorbed by the body and deposited into the muscles for optimum performance. I recommend using nutrient-rich sources of carbs like sweet potato, squash, peas, green beans, or zucchini.
Adversely, if you are doing low-intensity exercise for a long time, then a ketogenic diet will be your best bet. Marathon runners will use this strategy if they are on top of the trade secrets. When a person’s body runs out of energy from the fat they have consumed, they will burn fat from their body. Also, long-distance athletes use exogenous ketones to get them through—exogenous means external from the body, usually taken orally.
When you are cutting weight, a pre-workout meal could include C8 oil or Dave Asprey’s Brain Octane Oil. C8 oil metabolizes quickly to have ketones in the blood, and full ketosis will emerge in about a half-hour after two tablespoons. It’s like taking exogenous ketones. If you haven’t tried it before, then lower the dosage quite a bit the first couple of times, or you will get a toilet destroyer. Mixing C8 oil with other fats seems to help with this issue.
Whey and BCAAs
It is also essential to get protein. I recommend using homemade kefir or yogurt to get whey protein. Whey protein is important because it gets broken down into amino acids and gets absorbed into the blood in about 15 minutes. Whey protein also has all the essential amino acids we need. If you use homemade yogurt or kefir you will be getting very powerful essential bacteria in your gut as well.
Add about a half of a scoop of BCAAs (branch chain amino acids) during bulk up about ten minutes before a body building style of workout. Only use BCAAs for a few months at a time as it can be carcinogenic if used long term.
The most effective legal ergogenic aid is water. Be fully hydrated by the time you get to the gym. It’s tough to re-hydrate during a workout. When I am training I might train slightly dehydrated which is a stress on my body that demands more red blood cells to be produced and red blood cell count will increase in a matter of days.
If I want to perform well then I drink water mixed with salt before I have a big game. Our bodies have salt water in them. If we just add the water we don’t retain that water. It draws minerals out of cells to keep the PH of the water at our body’s PH. We need salt. It is the most abundant mineral in our body and it retains water keeping us hydrated.
According to Dr. James Dinicolantonio author of the book “Win”, sports performance goes up with one litre of water and 2 teaspoons of sodium chloride starting 90 minutes before the big game has best results. Sip the salt water over 30 minutes finishing it an hour before the game.
Studies show that adding a source of carbs during a workout improves gains and prevents fatigue. This is why sports drinks were invented. The water, sodium, and potassium allow for easy gastric emptying and quick absorption, which prevents blood flow to shunt from the muscles to the digestive system. 7% of sugar in water is optimum for gastric emptying and absorption to the body. This is approximately ¼ sports drink and ¾ water. You need to replace water during your workout anyway.
One other notable benefit you get from adding carbs during a workout is it prevents your body from breaking down muscle tissue to use as energy. Indeed, your body will break down fats at this point, but you never want to lose fat at the expense of muscle. You can massively increase your fat loss by increasing muscle mass, and increasing muscle mass is the first goal in a weight loss program.
Another supplement you can add to your workout to enhance gains is BCAAs. Studies have shown carbs to be more beneficial, but adding BCAAs shows less muscle wasting as well. Try to use as clean as possible BCAAs, so you don’t add harmful toxins to your body.
Dr. Mercola’s Warning
“Isolated amino acid supplements and branched-chain amino acid isolates (such as leucine and glutamine) are dangerous and potentially damaging to your health — so stay away from them. Many contain “putrid proteins,” as well as the proteins in the wrong form (isomers) so they cannot be properly used by your body.
They also tend to be acid-processed and contain surfactants, artificial sweeteners, heavy metal contaminants (arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury), and a long list of chemical additives. Instead, look for a high-quality whole food whey supplement that is minimally processed, comes from organic, grass fed, non-hormone treated cows and is independently tested and verified for purity.
An excellent source of convenient, quick-to-prepare high-quality protein is whey protein. Whey protein is an excellent ‘fitness food’ because it contains not only high-quality protein, but also extremely high amounts of leucine, which is particularly important for muscle growth and repair.
One of the reasons whey protein is so effective for exercise recovery is that it assimilates very quickly — it gets into your muscles within 10 to 15 minutes of swallowing it, just when they need it most. Whey is also excellent for your immune system, as it is rich in immunoglobulins, lactoferrin and other precursors for glutathione.”
Using C8 Oil
If you are in full ketosis and use C8 oil before the workout, you should be fine for energy during your exercise. When you put yourself in ketosis, you will burn fats off your body when you run out of the ketones from the C8 oil. It also takes longer to burn off the energy from ketones.
I have used C8 oil with whey protein (kefir or yogurt) as my pre-workout, and I still do half the time. I can work out and still have plenty of energy after. C8 with a little bit of whey is the best pre-workout while cutting weight. (Half the time, I intermittent fast before my workout. I might skip eating before my workout for a week or two at a time but I never skip a meal after a workout!)
The Anabolic Window
It was believed that it was crucial to get a meal as soon as possible after a workout. Experts claimed there was an anabolic window after exercise in which the body would use protein to rebuild muscle. Experts are now saying this isn’t true. Your body will use protein as needed for building muscle for days after a workout.
Your body will be in fight or flight mode right after a workout, and you won’t be able to produce enzymes to absorb nutrients right away. You can meditate to activate the rest and digest mode for better digestion. It’s a good idea to relax and make every meal a ritual for better nutrient absorption.
The Best Post-Workout Meal
The body produces many enzymes to store energy in the muscles and build muscle shortly after a workout. Take advantage of the environment in the body and eat protein and healthy fats and carbs. Every time you eat, you activate the growth pathways of the body and post-workout is the best time to enable growth. Always!
The combination of fat, protein, and carbs activate growth the most but the combination of fat and carbs isn’t far behind. If you are looking to cut weight you never want to eat things like ice cream, french fries, or popcorn with butter. Instead, choose fat or carbs at each meal. Follow a keto-diet most of the time, and once a week before and after leg day, use carbs without fat, (if you’re cutting weight) to increase your insulin and level off hunger hormones.
What The Post Workout Meal Looks Like
A post-workout meal would look something like this: soup with homemade bone broth and organic vegetables. This meal would be very high nutrient, and the amino acids in the bone broth are perfect for improving the amino acid ratio needed for the human body. In other words, bone broth is high in the right amino acids that the body needs for growth and repair.
The number one objective with eating is to get the nutrients our bodies need. I use coconut milk as my source of energy, and spices like curry are excellent antioxidants. I would add another source of protein to this meal like grass-finished beef, or seafood. Whey in the form of Kefir or yogurt is part of every post workout meal to get all the fast acting essential amino acids.
You can add juiced vegetables to this for more essential nutrients but you’ll have to chew when you drink it because it’s the chewing that triggers the enzymes to digest the nutrients in the veggie drink.
I like to add raw egg yolks when I can as well because they are so loaded full of nutrients. Raw egg yolks are easily absorbed and used by the body and they are like a multivitamin if you look at their nutrient profile. They have every nutrient minus vitamin C and vitamin K.
If you are a high-intensity athlete like a professional hockey player, you will have a hard time replenishing carbohydrates to maintain a high level of performance day after day. Experts recommend eating about a cup full of easy-to-absorb, high-carb foods, like pasta, rice, or potatoes, every half hour after intense exercise for the next four hours.
High intensity athletes will also have a hard time rehydrating. The problem isn’t the water it will be the minerals that we lose when we sweat. Sweating is the number one way we detoxify so we want to sweat but we will also lose minerals at the same time. I use a multivitamin, trace minerals, and sea salt after high intensity exercise where I sweat a lot.
The supplement industry is a hundred billion dollar industry. Unfortunately, some of these supplement companies may be more interested in money than in your health. Also, most supplements will have toxins in them. Supplements do not have to be effective and they only have to be harmless enough to a standard set by the FDA. Don’t waste your money and how much toxin is ok for you to take?
Inasmuch, most supplements are doing more harm than good. For example, if you are not deficient in vitamin D, (or anything) then don’t take it. Too much of anything is just as harmful as not enough.
Because most supplements are doing more harm than good I recommend not taking them unless you really know what you are doing. The only supplements I will talk about here are the ones that have been proven to be beneficial.
I take a high quality multivitamin twice a week from a source I trust and I take fermented cod liver oil. Fermenting it will preserve the oil and it has a probiotic. It will have vitamin K2, vitamin D, Vitamin A, and Omega 3s. The amount in each pill is unknown because it is a whole food not processed in a lab.
Glutamine has been proven to increase recovery significantly as seen in this study. Putting a scoop in a post-workout drink is a great way to ensure you get it in your diet. Creatine-monohydrate shows fabulous results for bulking up. Only use these products short term or they can be carcinogenic as well.
Using mocha green tea can be excellent for bulking up or cutting also. The epigallocatechin gallate or EGCG in green tea diverts calories away from fat cells and into muscle cells. Use green tea with your meals, especially on cheat meal day.
Commercial Pre-Workout Supplements
I do not recommend using a commercial pre-workout supplement to increase energy for your workout. During the workout, we break down the body and the rest and recovery part is where we get the gains. Recovery is the most important part and often foolishly underrated.
Pre-workouts always have caffeine or a combination of stimulants. Taking a pre-workout might give a person more energy and mental clarity for the moment, but a person will not rest and recover as well. Notably, you won’t sleep as well.
Sleep is crucial for gains, but not only that; the next day will be stressful. When a person takes pre-workout supplements, they are essentially stealing energy from tomorrow, and they will not recover as well. Keep in mind the recovery is the most critical part.
If you are about to do high-intensity exercise like playing hockey, one of your objectives is to keep your heart rate as low as possible. If you can keep your heart rate down, you will have more endurance and power. Stimulants increase your heart rate and max out your performance quickly. Never take stimulants if you have to perform for more than a short burst like a javelin, shotput, or catapult athlete.
On the flip-side, if you have an exam, a cup of coffee will increase mental clarity. Don’t overdo it or your exam jitters will break the desk.
To summarize, eat about 2-3 hours before a workout. Have carbs, protein and fat in accordance to the diet you follow; fat for a ketogenic diet or cutting weight and use carbs with fat for bulking up.
If you want a pre-workout drink, I recommend C8 oil with homemade kefir if you are cutting weight. If you are bulking up, then fast-acting carbs, C8 oil, with BCAAs and whey protein in the form of homemade kefir or yogurt is the best pre-workout.
You should be fine during the workout if you drank the C8 oil mixed with kefir or yogurt before the workout. If you want extra energy during the workout or are looking to bulk up, mix 1/4 sports drink with 3/4 water and drink that during your workout.
After the workout, do some meditation to activate the rest and digest mode. Have healthy fats, carbs, kefir, bone broth, and a good source of protein like grass-finished beef. You can add juiced vegetables and raw egg yolks for added nutrients.
Post-workout is your most important meal, and you should never cheap out on nutrients whether you are looking to bulk up or cut weight.
I wish you lots of health, love and happiness!
The only holistic personal trainer in Edmonton