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Pre and post workout nutrition

Whilst determination and willpower might play some part in the effectiveness of our workout, food provides us with a vital energy source our body needs to be able to cope with the strenuous activity. As well as affecting physical performance, food also helps with recovery post-exercise, particularly in the growth of muscles and the replacement of energy in the form of muscle glycogen.

For effective pre and post workout nutrition, how much food you eat is not the only consideration; it’s important that the foods are consumed depending on the type of exercise being carried out.

Pre-workout

Having maximum energy levels for optimal performance isn’t the only reason behind being properly fuelled prior to your workouts.

When taking part in physical exercise our body uses our muscle glycogen stores which we get from carbohydrate rich foods and fluids. When these stores are empty not only do we feel sluggish and tired but our body turns to the next energy source it can find which is fat. Unfortunately this causes a drop in our work rate.

For those looking to build strength and muscle size, not eating enough before a workout can have a negative impact on overall progress, regardless of the workout. To make sure you’re properly fuelled for your workout it’s advised to eat 30-60 minutes prior to training to make sure you have the energy required for strenuous activity.

Post-workout

Post-workout nutrition is integral to both muscle recovery and the replacement of nutrients used during exercise.  During strength training our muscle fibres are broken down under the stress of the workout, but then the process of rebuilding begins to increase the overall size and strength of the muscles. Muscles rebuild naturally but for effective results protein is needed as soon as possible after training has finished, together with carbohydrate and fluids.

Eggs and recovery

While 'recovery' supplements such as protein shakes, carbohydrate-protein drinks and protein bars may appear to provide a convenient way of getting nutrients immediately after exercise, they are invariably more expensive than ‘real’ food. You can get the protein, carbohydrate and other nutrients your body needs after an exercise session from egg-based dishes (such as scrambled or boiled eggs with wholemeal toast), milk-based drinks (such as home-made milkshakes), fruit with yogurt or pasta with cheese.

It’s important to have carbohydrates and a small amount of protein as soon as possible after exercise, so if you aren’t able to cook something up straight away you could snack on bananas or cereal bars in the meantime.

How eggs compare

The chart below provides a comparison of popular egg dishes with protein supplements and other popular products. The egg dishes supply 10 – 20g protein, the level considered optimal for recovery, and similar to that found in protein supplements and recovery drinks. By contrast, many sports drinks, cereal bars and pasta supply no, or only small amounts of protein.

All information checked by an independent Registered Nutritionist/Dietitian

 

Calories

Protein (g)

Carbohydrate (g)

Fat (g)

1 boiled egg and 2 slices toast + 10g margarine

320

15

31

17

2-egg plain omelette with 200g potatoes

325

19

35

14

Scrambled eggs (2) on 1 toasted bagel (60g)

334

20

35

14

Pasta (85g uncooked) with 100ml tomato pasta sauce

338

12

70

3

2 cereal bars (58g) (1)

250

4

40

8

500ml protein recovery shake (2)

385

22

62

6

500ml sports drink (3)

140

0

32

0

1 scoop (30g) protein powder (4)

120

23

2

2

pre and post workout nutrition