Whether one’s fitness goals are to gain muscle, lose fat or to run a marathon, diet is arguably 70 percent of the process. One of the biggest questions athletes have is what they should be eating to maximize their fitness goals. What someone eats before and after their workout is one of the biggest contributors to reaching those goals.

When working out, our bodies uses Adenosine triphosphate (ATP), as explained on BiologyinMotion.com. ATP is the molecule that gives our bodies energy. A big mistake some people make is going to the gym early in the morning without eating anything beforehand. According to Jim Stoppani, Ph.D., athletes burn 20 percent more fat when they exercise on an empty stomach, but also burn through many essential amino acids. Since amino acids are the building blocks of protein, one is preventing muscle recovery by depriving their muscles of protein. This is not ideal for someone who is trying to gain any sort of muscle or strength.

To maximize a workout, it is best to consume some sort of simple or complex carbohydrate before a workout. Since carbohydrates are the building blocks to ATP production, consuming some form of carbs will ensure that one gets the most out of every workout. An example of a complex carbohydrate might be oatmeal, potatoes or pasta. A good simple carbohydrate to consume before a workout is any sort of fruit. Just make sure to eat at least an hour before working out to allow one’s body to digest the food. Many people seem to think that carbohydrates are bad, but as long as one is getting proper exercise and has a well-balanced diet, carbohydrates are helpful in reaching fitness goals.

To make sure one’s body fully recovers and receives the proper nutrients after a workout, meals should be high in protein.

“I eat chicken at the cafe along with whatever the main protein source is in the main line,” Senior Peter Chindavong said.

Chicken, ground turkey and fish are all great to consume after a workout. Any sort of red meat, such as steak or beef, is also acceptable. However, red meat is high in saturated fat, which is not good to eat often.

Additionally, protein shakes are a good meal substitute for anyone who does not consume enough protein in their diet. Be aware that most protein shakes are calculated based off the average daily caloric intake of a grown man. This means that women trying to build lean muscle should seek out protein shakes specifically targeted for women and based on a female daily caloric intake.

What one eats before and after a workout will determine how quickly one is able to reach their fitness goals. Make sure to get the proper food in your diet or you could hinder your progress.


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