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Health & Vitality

How To Use Food To Maximize Your Training

by Chris 'The Kiwi' Ashenden - 7 months ago

If you grew up doing a sport like swimming or running, then you’ve heard ways of using food to maximize your training.

It’s all about workout fuel.

Back in my glory days, I played rugby.

In order to maintain peak performance during each game, I had a whole pre- and post-game routine worked out.

Over time, and as I learnt more about nutrition, my approach changed.

At Athletic Greens, we believe in the best nutritional balance possible, whether it’s to fuel your daily workouts or to help you reach your marathon goals.

With all the different philosophies out there, it’s time to cut through the noise and provide the best tips for maximizing nutrition before, during, and after a workout routine.

Whether you are trying to gain weight and muscle or burn calories and lose, there are methods and approaches to the ideal workout fuel, so let’s look at them.

Your Body Is Your Temple – Feed It Well!


Most people are just happy to make it to the gym, but some people are really great at balancing out their workouts, nutrition, and getting most of it right.

If that’s you, then you are way ahead of the game. But is your workout fuel helping you achieve the maximum calorie burn that you deserve for all your hard work?

How do you know if you are hydrated enough for top performance when you are on the treadmill or working the free weights?

Most of us don’t always eat well before or after the gym even though it could make or break our results.

We’ve all heard the saying, “your body is your temple.” This extends to your workout fuel.

We want to treat our bodies right, with the proper workouts, balanced nutrition, and recovery.

But did you know it’s just as important to fuel up before any workout?

Have you thought about what to eat after a workout to maximize all your hard work? The goal is to burn fat and keep muscle.

Maybe you often face a scenario where you plan to hit the gym hard, but then you stop to think…

“Wait, should I eat something before I go or is it too close to my workout?”

These are important questions that can have an impact on energy maintenance during a workout as well as weight loss and gain.

Let’s explore how you can use the right workout fuel to maximize nutrition before and after a workout.

When And What To Eat Before And After Workouts


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Most nutritionists recommend eating something before a routine workout.
In an article by the American Heart Association, includes advice offered by Riska Platt, M.S., R.D., a nutrition consultant for the Cardiac Rehab at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York.

Platt explains that going into a workout without any fuel will leave you feeling sluggish and with low energy, which then limits your calorie burn.

On the other hand, if you fuel up, you can fully maximize your workout with drive and stamina and burn more calories by working harder.

She recommends fueling up about two hours before you hit the gym. If you are in a hurry and didn’t have time for a meal, she suggests a small piece of fruit before your workout.

If you plan on a very long workout, 90 minutes or longer, then bring a small snack for during the workout.

Additional expert advice that supports Platt’s viewpoint is also found in the same article, where the American College of Sports Medicine states that:

Basic Tips For Using Food To Maximize Your Training

Here are some basic tips that will help you to fuel up for those daily burns you fit into your busy schedule:

  • Before heading to the gym, make sure you hydrate with plenty of water. You also want to hydrate during your workout for maximum value, by taking small sips during breaks.
  • Healthy carbohydrates are the best choices for pre-workout meals. Experiment with what works best for you, and when you find the winning pre-workout formula that gives you that extra boost, continue tweaking it over time. You may find your pre-workout fuel needs to change, depending on the time of day you choose to workout.
  • Avoid heavy proteins. Contrary to popular belief, for a regular, routine workout, you should avoid heavy protein beforehand. Protein has a slower digestive rate and can cause the body to slow down a bit. It’s best saved for post-workout meals.

Post-Workout Snacks And Meals


Did you know that eating post-workout is just as important as eating pre-workout?

You need your body to burn fat, not muscle, and you need your muscle to recover. That process all takes energy.

Have you ever felt ravenous after a workout routine? I know I have. But before you reach for the pizza or pasta, stop yourself and go for something nutritious.

Most experts recommend the following:

  • Drink plenty of water after your workout to rehydrate from all the fluid you lost during the sweating stage.
  • Eat healthy proteins and healthy carbohydrates for muscle recovery. Lean chicken with brown rice and a vegetable is a great lunch after a mid-morning burn.
  • If you did a strong weight workout, listen to your body and give it the protein, fluid, and restoration it needs.

Make An Athletic Greens Smoothie

Some people mix water and juice for a quick energy boost, but we recommend making a smoothie out of Athletic Greens.

Post-workout is a great time to fuel up on all the nutrition and protein Athletic Greens can provide for a full workout recovery.

While Athletic Greens is great first thing in the morning to start your day, many of our customers love to use it for a pre-workout or post-workout fuel. Mix 8 oz. or so of almond milk, a banana, and a scoop of our greens!

Using Food To Maximize Your Bodybuilding Workouts

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Most of us are working out to stay in shape and keep good health, but some of you want to gain weight, more importantly: muscle!

The food strategy for pre and post workout fuel is different for bodybuilders than the routine of the average gym rat.

Bodybuilding is a science and requires a lot of detailed planning to achieve results. Let’s take the time to explain a quick overview of what to expect when bodybuilding and planning pre-workout fuel.

A recent article published at bodybuilding.com discusses the importance of scheduling workouts at the end of the day and loading up on the right foods pre and post workout.

By doing your workout towards the end of your day, you have time to build up your fuel storage for a heavy bodybuilding workout to gain muscle and weight.

One of the key points in working out with weights is that you have to eat to gain muscle.

Bodybuilder Calum von Molder states that the most important way to build muscle and gain the weight is to “Eat frequently.”

Bodybuilding.com also recommends that you stay hydrated throughout your muscle building workouts and that bodybuilders drink a pre-workout shake with amino acids, essential vitamins and minerals for muscle recovery.

Pre-workout is the perfect time for throwing together a smoothie and mixing in a nice blend of Athletic Greens for amino acids.

After your workouts, bodybuilding.com discusses keeping up with the healthy carbohydrates for muscle gain and to offset too much calorie burn.

They recommend a large increase in complex carbohydrates for bodybuilders. You also need a protein boost post workout to maintain the muscle you just worked.

Food To Maximize Your Training — Marathons And Triathlons

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Endurance events are popular with athletes, now more than ever. Maybe you’ve even set a goal to run a local race, marathon, or triathlon.

Training for these events takes a different nutritional approach than what we plan for in our daily gym workouts.

Let’s learn how to load up for a race and how many calories you need during training.

Marathon Nutrition And Energy Needs

Not everyone is the same size, and we all have different caloric and nutritional needs based on height, build, and weight when training for a race.

According to an article a few years ago from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics:

Complex carbohydrates are key for marathon nutrition when attempting endurance running.

The usual suspects such as brown rice, healthy grain breads, beans, and pasta should help add to diet needs and nutrients.

According to registered dietitian Janice H. Dada in “Today’s Dietitian,” a marathon runner needs between 7 to 10 grams of carbs per kilogram of body weight during the training period.

Before training runs, most dietitians recommend a light meal that is soft on the stomach like oatmeal or yogurt.

The day before a big race, marathoner Hal Higdon said in a Livestrong.com feature:

While I may not agree with the high gluten intake, the gist of it is, carb-load! You’re allowed!

On race day, pick another meal that is easy on the stomach and not heavy in fat. A bagel with almond butter can give you just the right amount of energy to get through the race without making you feel sick.

Remember, you stored up carbs the night and day before so you should be ready to go with plenty of energy to burn.

How Do You Use Food To Maximize Your Training?

Do you have a favorite meal you swear by before you hit cycle class? I know I do.

What do you eat pre and post workout? What’s your chosen workout fuel?

We would love to know what your favorite snack or meal is and how you feel it maximizes your workout.

Share it with us and tell us how you maintain your fitness goals and stay energized before and after your workouts.

Pre And Post Workout Formulas

Given how difficult it can be to fit in a workout AND prepare healthy fuel for before and after, many people are turning to pre-made formulas. This is a topic that deserves a whole article on its own.

In the meantime, if you’re new to supplements and want to learn how to select high quality supplements that are right for you, we have the perfect guide to get you started. Download your FREE copy of our supplement buyer’s guide below!