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Exercise Nutrition: What and When Should You Eat?

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What should you eat before your workout, during your workout, and after your workout? When should you eat before and after exercise? Short Pump health coach Brandon Rice explains.

When we all think about exercise and nutrition, we're thinking about protein shakes and sports gels and pre-workout drinks. But today, we're going to primarily focus on the macronutrients of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and, of course, water, and how that is going to affect your exercise results.

What Do Macronutrients Provide?

The first thing you need to discuss is what are those macronutrients and what do they provide? Carbohydrates are going to provide your fuel or your energy. Proteins are going to be able to help you recover and repair after a tough workout. Fats are a great energy source. They help regulate hormones. And they're also a great transport, along with water, in order for your body to be able to absorb those nutrients from your protein and your carbohydrate sources and use them efficiently.

Eat the Right Amount of Calories

The main dietary concern when it comes to exercise and a diet is making sure that you have an ample amount of calories. You're not eating too many, you're not eating too few, with a solid balance of your macronutrients.

So make sure that you're utilizing your carbohydrates, your proteins, and your fats at equal levels. Don't eat too many carbohydrates. Don't eat too few proteins. Just make sure that there's a solid balance in your routine for both breakfast, lunch, and dinner, to make sure that you've got a good overall approach to how you're going to affect your exercise with nutrition.

Pre-Workout vs. During Workout vs. Post-Workout

When it comes to exercise and nutrition, there are phases, right? You've got your pre-workout, your during-your-workout, and then your after-your-workout. And I think for pre-workout, you would want to eat a sensible meal with good whole carbohydrate, protein, and fat sources, anywhere between two to three hours before your workout.

Don't forget that it takes a while to digest your food. It can take up to multiple days in order to digest these foods properly. And so make sure that you're eating it with plenty of time so your body is able to start utilizing those sources.

Carbohydrates are going to be there in that pre-workout to give you the energy. Proteins are going to be there pre-workout to prevent any potential damage. And then fats are actually going to be there to help slow digestion and to sustain that energy level for a longer period of time.

During your workout, primarily carbohydrates and proteins. You're not going to want to eat a whole lot of fat while you're working out. It can kind of sit in your stomach a little weird, but they're not as effective when it comes to your overall performance if you're eating fat during your workout.

So if you are going for a long run, if you're going for an extended duration, making sure that you're eating your carbohydrates and your proteins is going to be the best way for you to sustain energy over a long period of time.

After your workout, making sure that you eat within about a two hour window is what you're primarily aiming for. Of course, you can have a protein shake afterwards. You can do all those things if you've got other activities and you're not able to get that full meal. But for those that have the opportunity to go home, relax, breathe, maybe take a shower and then be able to eat a full meal, that is going to be the best opportunity for you to utilize those carbohydrates and those proteins to make sure that you can recover properly.

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