For the past few years, the timing of post-workout feeding has been a hot topic for fitness enthusiasts. The idea of a “build-in feeding period” after a workout was popular with beginners and advanced gym-goers alike. But what is the real importance of meal timing?
There are many ways to approach meal timing after a workout. In this article, we will discuss whether meal timing really matters, when meal timing matters, and what are the best ways to eat post-workout meals.
Is meal timing important?
When it comes to the importance of meal timing, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. For example, eating time after exercise may be more important for fitness enthusiasts than others, and it also depends on the differences in each individual’s daily life.
The main goals of meal timing revolve around the idea of restoring energy and nutrients in a vital time frame when the body is able to use them, such as the period after a strenuous exercise. During and after intense exercise, glycogen stores become depleted, hydration levels tend to decline, and muscles are in need of repair.
Thus, eating after exercise is said to help restore what the body has lost, improve energy levels, and support the healing process by increasing muscle protein synthesis, and this is how the body uses protein to recover from exercise.
Meal timing is not a simple problem and should be approached from multiple perspectives. Factors such as pre-workout nutrition, exercise timeframe, and fitness regimens can all play a role in the importance of meal timing for many individuals.
When the timing of the meal is not important
The first possibility involves those who enjoy exercising in the morning on an empty stomach. In the morning, the body usually needs some form of nutrition and intense nutrients because it has been fasting for an entire night.
In the morning, the body does not receive any form of food to begin digesting for energy, so after exercising on an empty stomach, the intense nutrients become a little more important for restoring and replenishing the body’s energy levels. In addition to the healing potential of these nutrients, it is often important to eat a post-workout meal to improve daily energy levels.
Another time when meal timing matters is when athletes engage in multiple bouts of strenuous activity within a single day. Athletes who exercise daily need much more nutrients to obtain the nutrients needed to replenish energy levels and to facilitate the recovery process of their high energy requirements.
When the timing of the meal does not matter at all
As mentioned above, meal timing can or may be important to some individuals and in some cases, but for the vast majority of people, meal timing is not at all important to overall success.
Meals that one eats throughout one day take an enormous amount of time to digest, leaving the body in a continuous process of digesting key nutrients and converting them into fuel and tools for recovery. Thus, if a person has eaten a pre-workout meal, there is a good chance that the same meal will remain digested after a workout.
In this case, timing of meals and post-workout nutrition will not be important because the body is already in the process of using food for recovery and fuel. In addition, the body can only digest a lot in one period, hence the saying that more is not always better in the state of nutrition after exercise.
As a general rule, the normal “anabolic feeding period” is said to be 4-6 hours for the general population, so a rush to snack after exercising again does not always imply success.
3 essential steps to eating post-workout meals
Once we understand that meal timing is not often a factor of success or digestibility, it is possible to determine the post-exercise nutrition that will suit one’s lifestyle.
There are several ways to organize post-workout meals, and most of the time, forming post-exercise meals depends on a person’s preference and the context of their training. One way to determine the ideal post-workout meals is to consider them as recovery combinations . These recovery combinations are timed meals designed to support recovery, energy, and personal goals.
When it comes to pre and post workout meals, there are some general guidelines one can keep in mind to make sure to make the most of their nutritional options. For starters, these meals should be organized to meet your body composition goals and exercise needs.
Eat protein is essential
Eat protein . Most likely, a pre-workout meal will still be digested after a workout, so eating high-quality protein can be beneficial for recovery.
Meal example : A great pre-workout meal option for amateur weightlifters and serious athletes is oatmeal with protein powder . This meal will provide slow-digesting carbohydrates with protein rich in amino acids .
Pay attention to how often you eat
Distribute meals. If you enjoy eating a pre-workout meal, distributing meals evenly throughout the day can be beneficial for providing your body with energy at all times, especially before a workout.
Example of a meal : A late meal is best when it contains a balance of key nutrients according to your exercise plans. For example, if someone has already lifted weight during the day and wants to eat fewer carbs in the evening and more protein, then eating something like casein pudding with almond butter is a good option.
Use carbohydrates for training and meeting energy needs. Carbohydrates are best viewed as energy, so thinking about eating them heavily before and after a workout can be helpful to ensure ample energy for exercise and to make sure that your body composition goals are carefully pursued.
An example of a meal: Let’s say the goal is to lose body fat, and that someone is only eating carbohydrates before or after a workout, and then taking something like a pill or carbohydrate supplement before or after a workout can be a useful way to ensure that glycogen levels are restored.
Ultimately, timing of meals is really important for a very small percentage of people. However, many enjoy eating their meals before and after exercise to support body composition goals and energy needs. If you choose, look for the meals that best fit your body, and remember that an anabolic feeding period may not be as important as many think.