What to eat is not the only variable in building muscle. The timing of nutrients plays a big part. When to eat will depend on the individual. This guide will help you out big time!
Perhaps, the most critical time to consider your food options are pre- and post workout. It is important to consider your individual circumstances surrounding your training.
If you workout early in the morning, it’s not necessary to eat before you go. Ideally, a pre-workout meal should be consumed at least 90 minutes beforehand. A meal eaten right before you enter the gym may do more harm than good. Unless you want to wake up early to have a meal, it’s okay to just skip it. It’s inconvenient and not necessary so don’t sacrifice on sleep to eat a pre-workout meal.
If your workouts are mid-day (i.e. 10AM – 2PM), you have the option to have a pre workout meal. Personally, this is the time of day that I workout and choose to skip a pre workout meal and train fasted. Totally your call on this one. If you choose to have a pre-workout meal, make sure it’s one that sits well on your stomach.
On a typical diet, pre-workout meal should consist of protein & carbs. I like to keep it to a 1:1 or 1:2 ratio (protein:carbs). For most people, 20-30g of protein and 20-30g of carbs will be enough. Carbs should come from quality sources, ideally. Potatoes, rice, oatmeal, are good sources of carbs. The 90 minutes allows for the nutrients to be readily available when you begin working out. Protein should come from a complete source. Beef, chicken, turkey, fish, eggs, or a quality protein powder like as outlined here (“Best Protein Powders: What to Look for”) will suffice for protein.
If you are on a ketogenic diet (which will be discussed more in depth in the future), carbs will be absent. The ratio then becomes 1:2 or even 1:3 (protein:fat). Protein sources will remain the same as above. Fat should come from MCT Oil, Coconut Oil, or synthetic ketones.
In order for you to minimize catabolism during a fasted workout, consume 10g of BCAAs before you lift. This will allow you to reap the benefits of fasted training while minimizing muscle catabolism.
If your workouts come later in the day, you may have 2-3 pre-workout meals. In which case, the one your workout will immediately follow will be the same as outlined above. You and your goals will determine the meals that are not immediately before.
We will next talk about The Post Workout Meal.