How and What to Eat Pre-Intra-Post Workout

By Adrianna McDonald

As I stated before in the article about Nutrition Timing what and when you eat depends on your health and fitness goals. You are unique and what will be right for you, may not be right for someone else.

An endurance athlete will eat differently to a bodybuilder who wants to put on size or a bodybuilder getting ready for a competition and finally, very different to an average gym goer or non exerciser.

As an endurance athlete, your carbohydrate intake and calorie needs will be much higher because of the long distance and duration of your training.

As a bodybuilder protein and calorie needs would be higher to promote the muscle growth.

Pre & Post Workout Quote

If you are getting ready for a fitness competition like Miranda, where dropping the body fat percentage is required, your protein and fat intake can be higher but carbohydrates should be lower.

Here nutrition is essential if you want to change your body composition. Depending on the person (remember you are unique), training intensity, and the stage at which they are prior to a competition I will use different approach.

Mostly, the pre-workout meal will stay high protein and fats. For intra-workout nutrition (during exercise) I like to use BCAAs (Branched-chain Amino Acids). These are very important as lifting weights puts enormous amount of stress on the body and the BCAAs will support the immune system, help to cope with this stress and prevent muscle loss. Your body cannot produce BCAAs so they must be consumed.

And for post-workout I would use Vitargo which is a fast-absorbing carbohydrate and
protein isolate which is also the type of protein that is absorbed the fastest by the body. Repairing and refuelling the depleted muscles immediately after training is crucial for muscle repair so protein itself or a combination of both, protein and carbs, would be required.

As to post-workout meals, in my opinion these should be eaten an hour after training and should consist of foods high in protein and starchy carbohydrates.

Pre & Post Workout Quote 2


Adrianna on the Carbohydrate Controversy

In the past few years there has been loads of controversy whether carbohydrates, or carbs as they are commonly known, are good or bad for you. You probably heard that:

  • Carbs spike your blood sugar and insulin, which packs on the body fat.
  • Carbs, especially sugar and grains, cause inflammation.
  • Carbs are not an essential part of the diet like fat and protein.

Unfortunately statements about “good foods” and “bad foods” ignore biological complexity and the bigger picture of nutrition.

The Truth about Carbohydrates

by jms5030.

We all require some level of carbohydrates to function at our best over the long term.

We can cut carbs temporarily if we need to lose weight quickly or at the starting phase of weight loss. But for most of us, keeping carbs too low for too long can have disastrous consequences, especially if you work out. It could lead to:

  • decreased thyroid output
  • increased cortisol output
  • decreased testosterone
  • impaired mood and cognitive function
  • muscle catabolism
  • suppressed immune function

In other words: Your metabolism might slow, your stress hormones go up and your muscle-building hormones go down.

You feel lousy, spaced-out, sluggish, cranky
 and maybe even sick!

Eating too low-carb for too long can cause significant disruptions to many hormones.

This seems especially true for women. Not eating enough calories or carbohydrates or even eating enough calories but not enough carbohydrates leads up to disrupted hormones. This can have effects such as no or irregular periods as the body responds to a perceived sense of starvation and stress.

In addition, not eating enough carbohydrates tends to increase cortisol levels. Research also shows that lowering carb intake can affect your muscle mass even if protein intake remains constant.

Carbs Quote

Unless you are preparing for a bodybuilding competition or other athletic events… Keep it simple!

Enjoy a wide variety of minimally processed, whole and fresh foods.

Observe how you look, feel, and perform.

 And remember:



Eat carbs at night for weight loss??

IMG_20150904_094732[1]So a couple of weeks ago a colleague in the office mentioned that a few of his friends were trying a new diet trend – eating carbs at bedtime to lose weight!

I was a bit very sceptical when I heard that since I knew very well that typically this is not recommended because the body will not have enough time to burn the calories and will store them as fat instead. But when two of my trusted fitness & nutrition bloggers posted about this within a week of each other I had to investigate what the fuss was all about.

True or False?

Turns out there may be some truth in this. Shawna Kaminski, a long time athlete (swimming, skiing and bodybuilding) and top fitness trainer for women over 40, shared links to other industry pros talking about how you should not cut out carbs from your diet and even – shock & horror! – eat them before bedtime!

First off we have Nate Miyaki who is a firm believer that managing carb intake in the correct way can actually boost fat burning. He stresses how important food timing is. For example, his research found that eating carbohydrates (even the healthy ones) in the morning can hinder fat burning.

This is because carbohydrates cause a spike in insulin levels as they are converted into sugar. The rise in insulin suppresses other fat burning hormones and slows down your fat burning process. Also once the insulin levels drop, we crave more carbs throughout the day.

On the other hand, eating carbs at night can burn fat faster. A 2011 study in the Journal of Obesity found that those eating the majority of their carbs (about 80%) in the evening burned more fat and had fewer cravings than those who spread their carbohydrate intake throughout the day.

Hold your horses – cake may not be the answer here!

Then I remembered reading fellow blogger Deinza’s post where she explains that eating carbs at bedtime does not necessarily cause weight gain. Echoing Miyaki’s words she says: “With carbs, it is all about the right timing and amount you eat.

However, she stresses not only the timing of carbohydrates but also the type of carbs to be had (sorry no cake at bedtime!). For example, vegetables are also carbs but they do not affect insulin levels (so you can eat as much as you want). Starchy carbs (bread, potatoes, rice & pasta) are the ones to watch.

And here is where timing is key. Despite what Miyaki’s says about eating carbs in the morning, the general consensus is that this is nevertheless a good time to have them. This is because in the morning insulin and glycogen levels are low (so you need some fuel) and you have the rest of the day to burn the calories. Another optimal time is post workout when glycogen levels are low as well.

Yet, eating carbs in the evening can be beneficial too. They can help promote sleep by releasing serotonin (the happy hormone) and leptin which decreases hunger. Again the type of carbs is important – starchy carbs are ok, but aim for healthier options such as quinoa, oats, sweet potatoes and wholemeal bread.

A Final Word of Caution

Although there is some scientific evidence that eating (healthy) carbs at bedtime promotes weight loss and fat burning because:

  • Your body still needs energy during sleep, some experts suggest that your resting metabolic rate is the same during the night as during the day.
  • Eating carbs in the evening may result in increased fat burning by increasing insulin sensitivity.
  • And it definitely promotes good sleep through the increased production of serotonin.

There are a few things to remember:

  • Carbs are broken down in to sugar (glucose) and cause the pancreas to secrete insulin, therefore they affect insulin sensitivity (how well your body manages to get rid of excess sugar in the bloodstream).
  • Constantly bombarding your bloodstream with insulin is not good and can lead to diseases such as diabetes. Remember: timing is key.
  • Having carbs less frequently with more time between carb servings, you would be less hungry because your own body would ramp up systems that deal with excess glucose production,  and keep your blood glucose steady.

So no cake then… 😩