Sticking to an intense weight lifting regime is only half of the equation for building muscles. While the right exercise will help strengthen your body, if you aren't fueling it with the proper foods, the efforts you put in at the gym will be limited. You'll need to know right things to eat before weight lifting to ensure your body is fueled to get the most out of your aggressive workout.

What to Eat Before Weight Lifting

When it comes to lifting weights, carbohydrates are what fuel the body during the workout. After the workout, the body will utilize protein to help the muscles recover and grow. So before your intense weight lifting workout, it is recommended to consume a small meal that consists of low glycemic carbohydrates and lean protein. The low glycemic carbohydrates will supply the body with consistent energy since they take longer to digest which translate to more energy for your entire workout.

Examples of what to eat?

Some low glycemic carbohydrates to eat include beans, nuts, fruits, sweet potatoes, all bran grains, and vegetables. You can pair one of these examples with an all-natural nut butter for your lean protein. A bowl of rolled oats with a banana and peanut butter or apple slices with almond butter are just two examples of beneficial carbohydrates and protein to eat before your weightlifting workout.

When should you eat?

It is best to get in your small meal about an hour to an hour and a half before you begin your workout. You want to avoid eating too close to your lifting session as this can cause gastrointestinal distress and abdominal pain during the workout. For those who prefer to workout as first thing in the morning, try to at least eat a banana and a piece of whole wheat toast at least thirty minutes before you start your workout. Smoothie and shakes are also a great alternative for what to eat before weight lifting if you are working out in the morning. Combine fruits (frozen or fresh), fruit juice, protein powder, cottage cheese and almond milk together in a blender and enjoy before your workout begins.

What about water?

What you drink is just as important as what you eat before your workout. Drinking an adequate amount of liquids prior to your workout is also essential when it comes to building muscle. You should get in at least 2 cups of water about three hours before you begin your workout and another cup at least twenty minutes before your workout. This will ensure that you stay hydrated for the beginning of your workout. Avoid beverages that are high in sugar as this will only cause you to feel sluggish during your workout.

What shouldn't you eat before your workout?

While low glycemic carbs are good to eat prior to working out, high glycemic carbs should be avoided. These types of carbs can cause you to feel lethargic during your workout. So what to eat before weight lifting should not include glucose, sucrose, sugars, white bread or pasta, corn chips, and other heavy starchy foods as these tend to be absorbed more quickly into the bloodstream and leave you crashing towards the end of your workout. Foods that contain high amounts of fiber or fats should be consumed at least three hours prior to your workout since they take longer to digest and move through the body.

What to Eat After Weight Lifting

Once your workout is completed, your body goes into a recovery state leaving you tired. The muscles have been mildly injured and the energy that was stored up in the body was used during the workout. To help your body heal properly, your body needs the right nutrients back in its system as quickly as possible. Then what's the fastest way to get the nutrients your body needs to be restored quickly? Eating a healthy and nutritious snack is recommended.

Light Training Session:

You can easily prep and toss in your gym bag before heading to the gym with these suggestions:

  • Whole oats granola with dried fruits and nuts;

  • Chocolate milk (low fat);

  • Greek yogurt (Non-fat);

  • A banana with a tablespoon of peanut butter;

  • ½ cup edamame.

Intense Training Sessions

After an intense workout, you'll need something more filling to refuel your body. While these may seem more like meals than a snack, you'll want to keep the portions small.

  • Smoothie with a scoop of whey protein, banana, frozen or fresh berries, spinach, and almond milk;

  • Two eggs, scrambled with two slices whole wheat toast and avocado sliced;

  • Whole grain tortilla with hummus, grilled chicken and cucumbers;

  • Black beans and quinoa with grilled tofu, kale, olive oil and sea salt;

  • Nonfat Greek yogurt on whole wheat pita with lettuce and roasted red peppers.

What to eat after your workout should be considered when you plan on what to eat before weight lifting. So make an overall plan after reading this article for your next weight lifting or strength training.


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