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Nutrition Around Strength and Cardio Training


You can't out-train a bad diet! Exercise is the foundation to building strength but how you fuel before and after will determine how quickly you form muscle, shorten recovery time and increase fat loss time.

Recovery Time

Recovery time is critical and proper nutrition is essential for effective workouts. There are different windows of opportunity for different training methods:

Cardio training: the window of opportunity here is 30 minutes after a cardio workout. The body must replenish its energy (glycogen) stores in the muscle and liver

Strength training: the window of opportunity is extended to 2 hours post workout. Muscle protein synthesis occurs, leading to muscle tissue repair and recovery and replacing fluids

Pre-workout:

Cardio – **Consume 30-60 minutes before workout** this meal requires more carbohydrates than protein (the meal should be 75% to 90% carbs) to give you the energy to power through intense workouts

  • Carbohydrates are metabolized into glucose very quickly

  • Low glycemic index carbohydrates release sugar into the blood stream more slowly and likely contain more nutrition

  • Fruit, veggies, whole grains, beans

  • High glycemic index carbohydrates release sugar into the blood stream very quickly providing short bursts of energy

  • Processed foods, white rice, white breads

Meal Ideas (carb rich)

** Whole grain hot cereal with ½ cup berries, 1 teaspoon honey, 6 walnut halves and milk

** Whole grain toast with scrambled egg whites, spinach and an apple

** ½ cup Greek yogurt with ½ banana and ¼ cup granola

Strength - **Consume 1-2 hours before workout** this meal requires protein (25%) and carbohydrates (75%)

  • To have adequate protein reserves you must consume a protein meal 1-2 hours before training. Protein has to get broken down into amino acids to be used for muscle repair

  • Protein requirements vary depending on your body weight, gender, workout length and intensity

  • **10-20grams protein consumed 1-2 hours prior to workouts have been shown to jumpstart muscle recovery and prevent muscle loss

Meal Ideas (carb and protein)

** 1 egg + 2 egg whites omelet with spinach, tomato and onion, whole grain toast with jam

** Protein smoothie with ½ cup mango, 1tablespoon ground flaxseed, spinach and milk

** Greek Yogurt with ½ banana, walnuts, 1 teaspoon honey, apple

Post workout:

Cardio – the main focus will be on hydration! For every molecule of carbs there are 2 molecules of water attached. When you use up the glycogen stores you are losing a significant amount of water. Unless you are an athlete pure water is fine (stay away from Gatorade – TOO much sugar; though coconut water can be a good substitute)

  • Replenish your stores with a carb rich snack/meal depending how intense the workout was

  • Fruit, vegetables and whole grains are the most significant carb sources to replenish

Meal Ideas (carb and electrolyte rich)

** Protein smoothie with fruit, honey and spinach

** Banana with 1-2 tablespoons nut butter

** Apple with handful of nuts

Strength – dietary protein will be used for muscle synthesis, to build lean muscle, rather than fat storage if consumed within 2 hours of the workout

  • Both protein and carbohydrates are needed as a post meal to help repair muscles, replenish glycogen stores and prevent muscle soreness

Meal Ideas (carb and protein rich)

** Protein shake with milk and a banana

** Cottage cheese stuffed avocado with tomato

** Spinach salad with chicken, strawberries, cucumber, carrots and tomato

Whole foods are best to consume because they contain complete nutrition. Apart from macro nutrients (carbs, fats and protein) they provide your micros, which are your vitamins, minerals, fibre, antioxidants and water. The micros help to keep you full and satisfied so you do not over eat or crave unhealthy foods.

Circuit Training

Circuit workouts combines’ strength training and periods of cardio

  • Consume a meal with protein 2-3 hours prior to the workout

  • Have a carbohydrate snack 30-60 minutes prior to the workout (fruit, toast, smoothie)

  • Post workout (30-60 minutes after): drink lots of water to replenish what was lost and promote muscle synthesis!

  • Consume a post workout meal that includes protein and an extra carbohydrate to ensure adequate muscle repair and recovery

Proper nutrition is important if you want to achieve your “health” goals. Whether it is lose weight, lose inches, increase strength or to become more lean you cannot out train a bad diet.


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