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Nutrition around a weight training session

Nutrition is a key component to high performance in sport, health and utilizing the work you put in the gym. Recovery is key to building muscle. And nutrition is replenishment. There is no point putting in hours after hours of work at the gym without a good nutrition protocol to support that. Infact, there is still such less awareness among fitness enthusiasts, athletes on the importance of food plays. It is the most important thing!

I have always believed that pre and post workout nutrition is crucial to making progress. When I was purely bodybuilding and trying to put on muscle, my pre workout and post workout meals were prepared in advance and packed so I never swayed away from the nutrition plan. If your food is not already ready to eat or will take about half an hour to cook, there is a big chance you will snack on shit food. Control whatever you can control and discipline is key to getting results.

Pre -

What makes a good pre workout meal?

  • Sufficient amounts of protein. About 15 to 25g. I weighed 68 kgs. Not too much, as Protein and Fats can slow down digestion.

  • Complex carbohydrates for a steady energy release to fuel the workout

  • Lower in fat so that the digestion isn't slow.

  • Eaten about 60 to 90 mins before the workout depending on the size of the meal

  • I don’t believe in eating just a slice of bread or a granola bar or foods with just carbohydrates in them. Every pre workout meal or any meal for that matter should consist of a protein source.

  • Consume less simple carbs and sugars so that a big insulin spike and crash in energy levels is avoided..

My usual pre-workout meal before weight training session was either -

  1. 4 egg whites with 2 slices whole wheat bread

  2. Protein oats - 40 to 60g oats with a scoop of whey and some fruits on top

  3. A protein bar (rare occasions when I don;t have access to a cooked meal)

  4. A Banana to keep it light as it is low GI

Intra -

For intra workout, I used to carry a gallon jug with chilled water mixed with a scoop of BCAA or just some squeezed lemon juice. I never believed in drinking sugary isotonic drinks like Gatorade during a weight training session and never have. This is because I was never lifting for PRs but I was in it to achieve my aesthetic goals or If it was a really long session with a lot of volume with 10 or more sets of Deadlifts, then I might consider intra workout carbs but I would still stick to effervescent electrolyte tabs. I never felt the need for carbohydrate drinks or fruit for an hour of lifting (if you take out rest periods in between sets, the whole lifting time comes to about 15 to 20 minutes)

My intra-workout -

  1. A Gallon jug with chilled water with a scoop of BCAAs or squeezed lemon

Post -

The damage(micro tears during resistance training) is made in the gym and the gains are made with the right post workout meal. I usually have a whey protein shake immediately after lifting weights.

What makes a good post workout meal ?

  • Good amounts of protein for muscle protein synthesis and repair. Choose complete protein that has all the essential amino acids like Chicken, soya, fish, dairy, Low fat Paneer etc. A minimum of 0.5 - 0.75 g per Kg of body weight is ideal.

  • Among the proteins, it is always advisable to avoid high fat content proteins. This can slow down digestion and delay the transport of the amino acids to the muscle cells. For example, it is better to substitute a chicken thigh with chicken breast. Or low fat paneer instead of normal paneer. Or white fish instead of fatty fish like salmon.

  • The post workout meal should have the highest carbohydrate content to help replenish the glycogen stores. White rice, Potatoes and other higher GI carbs are a good option when it is a very depleting workout like a leg day or a heavy deadlift.

  • I would have a fruit with my whey protein shake

  • A good amount of vegetables for the crucial micronutrients and fibre.

  • And always remember to hydrate well with the post workout meal to replace the sweat losses.

An ideal post workout meal would be -

  1. Egg fried rice - 6 egg whites 100g(raw weight) brown or white rice with vegetables.

  2. Chicken breast / Low fat paneer with whole wheat pasta and vegetables.

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