When I originally wrote this article in May of 2012, I cited the book Nutrient Timing, by Ivy and Portman. The scientific information since then has changed. Succinctly put, there's no magical window when you have eat after a workout to maximize your #GAINZ! Even though this 45-minute window has been debunked, let's take a deeper look at the benefits of nutrient timing.
Nutrition 101. Complex carbs (whole grains, vegetables and legumes) are digested slower; therefore providing sustained energy. Simple carbs (sugars, processed snacks, white breads and some fruits) are digested much quicker providing an immediate spike in your blood glucose levels.
What to eat BEFORE your workout?
Try to eat some carbs and protein 1-2 hours before your workout (30-50g of carbs 30g of protein.) Individual's may respond differently, so play around with time frames that allow you to workout and not be full, but most importantly, be able to put in 100% effort for each set. You might try a sandwich, stir-fry protein bar or shake, some fruit, oatmeal, or eggs. If you're getting lethargic midway through the workout, add more carbs before hand or try an intraworkout meal like Gatorade with protein.
What to eat AFTER your workout?
This post-workout window is for you to figure out what your body requires to replenish the energy that you used during the workout. Think of it like driving a car. You need to figure out how many gallons of gas you just used. If your workout utilized core movements (Deadlifts, Squats, Bench, Chin-Ups) while incorporating the components for hypertrophy (Metabolic Stress, Mechanical Tension, and Damage), then your body will be starving for energy- SO FEED THE BEAST! The average 175-lb bro stores around 400g of muscle glycogen and 100g of liver glycogen- that's 2,000 calories of potential energy. If you trained properly (and most people DO NOT), you probably need to consume between 50-100g of carbohydrates. For the remainder of the day, primarily consume protein, fats, and fibrous carbs. If you eat everything after a workout because you feel you've "earned the right too" because of the workout, you'll probably gain weight. What happens if you try to put in more gas than your tank can carry? It'll overflow. The body will use the overflow as a form of fat storage.
Basic BMR calculations
1. Take your weight and multiply by 10 (male), 9 (female). This is how many calories you need to MAINTAIN YOUR CURRENT STATE. Your brain, lungs, heart, kidneys, liver, and muscles require fuel to function, this baseline is what is considered Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). If you're not exercising and your goal is to lose weight, you need to subtract calories. I suggest a few hundred- the more you subtract, the greater the chance for a binge later.
2. On workout days, multiple your BMR by 1.2-1.5 Can you go higher? Yes, but why give an overweight nation the green light to down more calories? I suggest our clients at Show Up Fitness to multiply by 1.2 and never go hungry. At any point if you're hungry, eat some vegetables, protein, and drink water. You'll need to subtract a couple hundred calories to be in a deficit. The human body stores extra calories throughout the bodies fat stores. You'll slowly, BUT SURELY begin to lose weight in a reasonable manner. We need to think of fat loss like debt. We aren't going to magically hit the lotto and erase the years of bad habits. It takes time- like a minimum payment plan that's been developed to eventually help get you out of debt.
BMR Non-Workout Day 1,910 (subtract 210). I'm going to suggest 1,700 calories for Paul to lose weight.
Workout Day 1910 x 1.2 2,292 (subtract 292). I'm going to suggest 2,000 calories for Paul to lose weight.
BMR Non-Workout Day 1,440 (subtract 140). I'm going to suggest 1,300 calories for Julia to lose weight.
Workout Day 1,440 x 1.2 1,728 (subtract 228). I'm going to suggest 1,500 calories for Julia to lose weight.
These numbers are relative and can change. The first week will be challenging, but try to be tough. The second you get "hungry", ask yourself, is this habitual, or am I truly hungry? If you're unable to maintain the non-workout BMR, here's some rocket-science, WORKOUT MORE!
There's no easy way out y'all. I suggest all of our clients at Show Up Fitness to WIN THE WEEK- that means lift weights 4-days out of the week. I then challenge clients to do yoga, spin, hike, take a new class, or go for a walk for the other 2-3 days.