Supplying your body with necessary nutrients is important for maintaining your overall health. However, if you are working out regularly, trying to lose weight and build some muscle mass, then it takes more than having a mindless appetite and eating everything that comes to your mind. Proper pre- and post-workout nutrition and supplementation is something one needs to pay close attention to in order to achieve optimal results regarding growth and recovery.

Eating before/during a workout is necessary for maintaining an anabolic state during the period of muscular stress and ideal performance. On the other hand, in order to enable your muscles to recover and ensure a strong comeback for the next workout, it is important to eat after a workout.

Pre vs Post-Workout Diets and Supplements

Pre-Workout Nutrition

It determines whether you can achieve the maximum potential during your training. Before every workout you should have a meal 1-2 hours before and take proper supplementation half an hour before.

A proper pre-workout meal should consist of fruit, which should be eaten throughout the whole day. It reduces stress on the heart, dilates blood vessels, and provides you with necessary vitamins, simple sugars, and some carbohydrates. Next, consume white or brown rice, whole wheat bagels, pasta or oatmeal, and brown bread for moderate to low GI carbs. Get enough proteins from eggs, fish (rich in Omega-3 fatty acids), or poultry. It is also beneficial to cook with sesame or olive oil. The pre-workout meal should be completely digested at least 20 minutes before a workout, so the blood can go from the stomach to the muscles.

As for fitness supplements, take them about half an hour before on an empty stomach. The best pre-workout supplements are: multivitamin (high in B-vitamins, due to its anabolic properties and help in energy release), creatine (retains water inside the muscle and provides energy), caffeine, BCAA, carb drinks, and vitamins C, B6 and B12.

Post-Workout Nutrition

Post-workout nutrition is crucial if you are seriously into weightlifting. When you finish working out, your muscles are damaged by an intense workout. Thus, they need additional energy and nutrients so they could properly recover. Otherwise, your performance in your next workout will be decreased, as well as your gains.

First, a small meal should be ingested and rapidly digested immediately after a workout in order to replenish your glycogen stores, elevate protein synthesis and stop protein breakdown. Consume dextrose and maltodextrin in liquid form for glycogen replenishment and an insulin spike (necessary for stopping protein breakdown). As for increasing protein synthesis, you need essential amino acids. You can get them through BCAA supplementation. Besides dextrose, maltodextrin and BCAA, other great post-workout supplements are: whey protein, L-glutamine, anti-oxidants, and creatine.

The foods that work best as a proper post-workout meal (about 1-2 hours after) are: whole wheat breads, brown rice, pasta, vegetables, and sweet potatoes. As for the protein, add fish, eggs, lean beef, chicken breasts (or any meat low in fat), and nuts to your diet plan. Also, rehydration is also important, so avoid food that dehydrates your body.

In order to reach your maximum potential, you must pay attention to your health habits. They are your foundation and without them you will not achieve much, regardless of your good nutrition and supplementation plan. Enough sleep, safe exercise habits, and a nutritious diet are key for your workout success.