What to Eat Before, During, and After Workouts to Build Muscle and Improve Performance

Nutritional Layers of Importance

#1: Energy Balance / End of Day Calories

#2: Macronutrients

#3: Micronutrients, Fiber, and Hydration

#4: Consistency

#5: Peri Workout Nutrition

Pre Workout Nutrition

  • Provide adequate fuel to optimize performance and prevent premature fatigue.
  • Create an anabolic environment for training.
  • Avoid stomach discomfort.
  • Start the workout appropriately hydrated.

Pre Training Fuel

Anabolic Environment for Training

Avoid Stomach Discomfort

Proper Hydration

Situation #1: Training Fasted / No Pre Workout Meal

Situation #2: Pre Workout Meal 1–4 Hours Before Workout

  • 4oz chicken breast
  • 8oz russet potato
  • 150g watermelon
  • 5g butter (on the potato)
  • ¼ tsp salt (on the potato)

Situation #3: Pre-workout meal 0–60 minutes before workout

  • 1 scoop of protein powder
  • 8oz unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 medium banana

When Should You take a Pre Workout Supplement?

Intra Workout Nutrition

When does intra-workout nutrition make sense?

  • When you train fasted.
  • When the last meal is over 4 hours before the workout.
  • With long (high volume) workouts lasting over 60 minutes. Less benefit for training under an hour. Keep in mind, that this is 60 minutes of hard work, not extending a 45-minute workout into an hour and a half.
  • During a fat loss phase/calorie deficit (low glycogen levels). Unless you are struggling with hunger, in which case, it may be a good idea to avoid liquid calories.
  • When you have an abundance of carbs in your diet, consuming liquid carbs during training can be an advantageous way to hit daily carb totals.

What Should You Have Intra Workout?

What about actual food?

How Many Carbs?

What About Protein?

Bottom Line With Intra Workout Nutrition

Post Workout Nutrition

How big is the “Anabolic Window”?

What to Eat Post Workout

Post-Workout Meal Example #1

  • 6oz top round
  • 145g white or brown rice
  • 100g green veggies
  • 1 medium apple

Post-Workout Meal Example #2

  • 1 scoop of protein powder

Putting it All Together

  • It’s a good idea to have a meal or a snack with carbohydrates and protein within 4 hours of training.
  • Be mindful of food sources to avoid any stomach discomfort.
  • If needed, consume extra fluids in the pre-workout window to ensure proper hydration at the start of the training session.
  • Intra workout nutrition is not needed by everyone.
  • If you train fasted, consume 15–30g of carbohydrates with 10g of EAA or Whey.
  • Carbohydrates can be beneficial for long workouts lasting over 60 minutes.
  • A liquid carb source works best, but low-fat candy or fruit can work, too.
  • Consume fluids throughout to maintain proper hydration.
  • Consume protein within 5 hours of the pre-workout meal.
  • A whole food source or protein shake can be used. The evidence does not indicate that the specific post-workout protein source makes a difference in body composition or resistance training performance.
  • If you train multiple times per day, consuming carbohydrates post-workout can be helpful.
  1. Naharudin MN, Adams J, Richardson H, Thomson T, Oxinou C, Marshall C, Clayton DJ, Mears SA, Yusof A, Hulston CJ, James LJ. Viscous placebo and carbohydrate breakfasts similarly decrease appetite and increase resistance exercise performance compared with a control breakfast in trained males. Br J Nutr. 2020 Mar 16:1–9. doi: 10.1017/S0007114520001002. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 32174286.
  2. Durkin M, Akeroyd H, Holliday A. Carbohydrate mouth rinse improves resistance exercise capacity in the glycogen-lowered state. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2021 Feb;46(2):126–132. doi: 10.1139/apnm-2020–0298. Epub 2020 Jul 29. PMID: 32726566.
  3. Bird SP, Tarpenning KM, Marino FE. Liquid carbohydrate/essential amino acid ingestion during a short-term bout of resistance exercise suppresses myofibrillar protein degradation. Metabolism. 2006 May;55(5):570–7. doi: 10.1016/j.metabol.2005.11.011. PMID: 16631431.

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