When you make the commitment to start an exercise routine and find yourself frustrated months later because you haven’t seen the changes in weight or body composition you were expecting, it may be time to evaluate your pre and post-workout nutrition. The old adage about carbohydrate preloading that “fueled” the rage of Spaghetti Supers of high school football teams is not the approach needed for the weight loss goals that many people are looking for. In fact, recent research shows that protein tops carbohydrate in its ability to increase physical performance, training session recovery, lean body mass, and strength. Even at 24 hours post-exercise, the fat-burning effects from the workout will be significantly greater if you go for the protein and skip the carbs! To help get you started – see below for the timing and types of protein best suited to give you results.
Pre-Exercise: 20 grams of protein within 1-3 hours before exercise
-2 hard boiled eggs
-protein smoothie – ½ cup tofu, almond milk, chia seeds, frozen berries, spinach
-2 rice cakes with nut butter
-4oz salmon with avocado
-1 cup greek yogurt with pumpkin seeds, almonds
Post-Exercise: Protein that contains at least 3 grams of leucine, combined with carbohydrate – 20 minutes to 1 hour after exercise. Leucine is a specific amino acid (protein) that helps to promote lean muscle development and decrease body fat.
-1 cup edamame
-1 cup cooked lentils
-1 cup chia seed pudding with 1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds and berries
-whey protein shake
-1 cup tuna salad with rice cake
Bonus Tip: A shot of pomegranate juice 30 minutes before exercise results in improved exercise performance due to increased blood supply to muscles during your workout.
For a more personalized nutrition plan to help you achieve your healthiest self consider seeing a Naturopathic Physician.
1. E.J. Roelofs, A.E. Smith-Ryan, E.T. Trexler, K.R. Hirsch, M.G. Mock. Effects of pomegranate extract on blood flor and vessel diameter after high-intensity exercise in young, healthy adults. European Journal Sports Science, 2016; Sep 20:1-9
2. M. Stark, J. Lukaszuk, A. Prawitz, A. Salacinski. Protein timing and its effects on muscular hypertrophy and strength in individuals engaged in weight-training. Journal International Soc Sports Nutrition, 2012; Dec 14;9(1):54
3. H.L. Wingfield, A. E. Smith-Ryan, M.N. Melvin, E.J. Roelofs, E.T. Trexler, A.C. Hackney, M.A. Weaver, E.D. Ryan. The acute effect of exercise modality and nutrition manipulations on post-exercise resting energy expenditure and respiratory exchange ratio in women: a randomized trial. Sports Medicine Open, 2015; Dec 1(1):11
4. K.J. Hackney, A.J. Bruenger, J.T. Lemmer. Timing protein intake increases energy expenditure 24h after resistance training. Med Science Sports Exercise, 2010; May 42(5):998-1003