In theory, if you include all of the macronutrients – i.e. carbohydrates, proteins and fats – in your meals, you no longer need to worry about your performance and your recovery…
But it is not that simple. Indeed, certain foods allow you to optimize your cardio and weight training sessions. Also, don’t forget to watch what you eat on rest days, as this can really impact how long it takes for a good recovery.
Training days / rest days: what to eat before, during and after training sessions?
- Before your cardio workout
Three hours before training: Your meal should include carbohydrates from whole foods, proteins, and fats. Try these sweet potato recipes. If you eat less than an hour before your session, opt for a shake or smoothie with carbohydrates and protein, but with little fiber so that it can be digested more easily.
- During training
Stay hydrated by drinking water and/or an electrolyte-rich drink, especially in hot weather. If you train for more than 90 minutes, drink a sports drink that contains carbohydrates. Most people burn between 30-60g of carbs per hour, depending on their body size and metabolism.
- After your cardio workout
After training, wait 45 to 60 minutes before eating: this will allow your body to continue burning fat for longer. Your first meal after training should include carbohydrates and protein from whole foods in a 3:1 ratio. It is not useful to consume carbohydrates from refined products that will be digested quickly, because carbohydrates from whole foods will replenish your glycogen stores the very next day. But, if you plan to train twice a day, then you will need to eat fast absorbing carbs after the first workout. For example: white bread, pasta made with white flour, rice or potatoes.
Not sure how much carbs you need daily? Then use our carb calculator:
- Before your workout
Two to three hours before training: Your meal should include carbohydrates from whole foods, proteins, and fats. If you’re eating less than an hour before your workout, opt for a shake or smoothie with carbs and protein instead.
- During training
Take BCAAs (branched chain amino acid in English), i.e. branched side chain essential amino acids. BCAAs are made up of three amino acids: leucine, isoleucine and valine. They are considered the building blocks of muscle proteins. In addition, BCAA dietary supplements do not need to be digested. They bypass the liver and arrive directly in the bloodstream and then in the muscles. By taking BCAAs during training, muscle protein synthesis is stimulated, and post-workout soreness is reduced.
- After your workout
Plan to eat 15 to 30 minutes after you finish your weight training session. In this way, you will quickly supply the necessary nutrients to your body, which will allow you to build muscles faster and gain strength. After training, consuming protein in combination with foods rich in carbohydrates stimulates muscle regeneration. This also promotes recovery and allows better adaptation of the muscles.
What should you eat on rest days?
Rest days are a great time to try low carb recipes. Since you’re not exercising, you don’t need to replenish your carbohydrate stores or consume more protein. Be sure to eat enough good fats: such as vegetable oils (eg olive oil, flaxseed oil or sunflower oil), fatty fish, nuts, seeds or avocados. Fats may slow down digestion, but that doesn’t matter on rest days. By the way, on those days, just listen to your body and eat when you’re hungry. how about a pizza low carblow in carbohydrates?
Carbohydrates, fats and proteins: what to eat on training days and rest days?
It is important to eat quality carbohydrates, fats and proteins every day.
Nevertheless, you should adapt your diet according to your training:
- cardio training dayssee to replenish your carbohydrate stores : It will improve your endurance and allow you to overcome shorter and more intensive workouts.
- after a cardio workoutwait 45-60 minutes before eating to make the most of the metabolic window and burn more calories.
- before a workoutstock up on protein. This will reduce muscle damage and speed up the regeneration process. Additionally, by supplying your body with amino acids, you promote muscle development.
- after strength trainingeat within 30 minutes to allow your muscles to regenerate and grow.
Want to learn more about macronutrients? Click on the images below to discover our articles on fats, carbohydrates and proteins.