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Feeding: before, during and after physical exercise

Feeding: before, during and after physical exercise

October 1, 2022

Many athletes ask themselves: what should I eat before training? And during the exercise? And after training?

Obviously, to answer all these questions will have to be analyzed case by case, but ... good news! There are some general patterns that you can follow without fear of being wrong .

Keep in mind that there are many factors that can influence what is best to eat, such as the sport you practice or your health and physical situation. So, do not take this text at face value! In any case, reading this article will allow you to have several basic ideas about what to eat, when and how.

Once this is clarified, let's start.

What-and how-to eat before training?

Before doing sports we will need to have a nourished body, in a situation where our cells and muscles are able to perform well and thus minimize the risk of injury . For this purpose, the nutrients that we ingest (carbohydrates or sugars, fats and proteins) must be in optimal amounts and proportions.


We must know that lipids are the last element of obtaining energy, a very effective energy but very slow: it takes more time to get going to nourish our muscle cells. Oxidation of fatty acids is activated 20-40 minutes after starting sports and ... it is almost impossible to exhaust the lipid reserves of our body.

On the one hand, fats are already distributed throughout the body, and this means that we have virtually inexhaustible stores. If we eat fats before training, we will only have to put the stomach to work and we will decrease the mobilization of blood to where we want it to be transported: the muscles . Therefore, the intake of fats before exercising is not recommended as it slows down our digestion. Apart from that, our lipid stores already provide us with this nutrient constantly, so you should not have any fear of it running out.


Speaking of sugars, the truth is that we have small reserves in the liver and muscle level. But nevertheless, these stores of glucose are not large enough to cover the needs of our body in a training day or physical, so we should ingest a carbohydrate of slow absorption to charge our cells with energy and not feel tired or have a lipotimia during exercise.

Examples of sugars of slow absorption are many, but the most recommended are pasta, rice and bread. If they are integral, much better! Because whole foods are absorbed more slowly by our digestive system, therefore our energy reserves will cover more and better our needs during (and after) sports practice, thanks in part to its fiber content.

As regards the fiber , we must know that it has two basic functions: to lower the glycemic index of foods (this is related to the speed of absorption of a food and with the activation of the insulin of our body) and to clean our intestines.

A little-known example of perfect pre-workout food: "10 benefits of chia seeds in your body and mind"


Last but not least, we have the proteins . These play a fundamental role during exercise to prevent or slow down the processes of muscle destruction. In the protein section we must take into account that the reserves only last from 3 to 4 hours, regardless of whether we are talking about vegetable proteins (lentils, for example) or animals (a veal fillet).

The only thing we will look at when deciding whether to bet on vegetable or animal proteins will be in our blood group, since according to the types of blood we will be more tolerant or less to one type protein or another, therefore digestion will occur more quickly or less. This point of blood groups and the assimilation of proteins I will explain in another article in more detail, I do not want to entertain in this.

Once we have seen what and how we should eat before the exercise, let's move on to the next phase: during sports activity

What-and how-to eat during physical exercise?

At this point of the training in which we begin to sweat and to notice how our muscles pump blood we will need to ingest certain nutrients that allow us to maintain a good level of hydration and energy. It is during sweating that our body expels water and mineral components. This loss can be easily overcome by ingesting a isotonic drink . The bottles of isotonic water contain sugars of fast absorption necessary to restore the levels of water and glucose that our body demands when exercising. If it is the case that the isotonic drink does not carry sugars, do not worry: you can add a couple of tablespoons of white sugar.

As regards proteins during training, our body can only assimilate the already decomposed protein in amino acids . The amino acid is the smallest unit in which a protein can be broken down, a chain of amino acids forms a protein. Two types of amino acids are responsible for repairing the microscopic muscle fibers of our body that are degraded when we play sports. On the one hand we have glutamine (which is the most important amino acid for the subject that concerns us) and which has a fundamental role in the repair processes of muscle fibers.

On the other hand we find the amino acids BCAA (Branch Chain Amino Acids), formed by the valina , leucine and isoleucine , three essential components in muscle metabolism. These amino acids can be purchased in specialized stores, and they come in shake form, which you can prepare at home and drink it quietly during training. Important !: We have to monitor the origin of these products, since not all have the same quality.

Low quality products can be dangerous to our health, be very careful! This will also be a topic that I keep for another article, because it deserves to be explained well. In any case, a lot of prudence when choosing nutritional supplements: it is better not to take them than to take one that could harm your health.

Once explained what and how to eat during training, let's continue: let's know how to feed after to sweat the fat drop.

What-and how-to eat after training?

Immediately after the exercise we have a time lapse of between 90 and 120 minutes during which our body is highly receptive with all the nutrients that we ingest. This special time is called an anabolic window, and it also happens in the morning when we wake up. Therefore, pay attention to what follows because it is very important.

The best option for after the exercise will be to take a shake of fast absorption carbohydrates , in order to cut the process of muscle destruction. This is produced by the continued stress on the muscle, which slowly damages the fibers during physical exercise to create micro muscle breaks. In order to achieve an improvement in muscle quality (and therefore in sports performance), we must pass through this process of destruction. Of course, it is not convenient that the muscle fibers remain degraded and without food to be repaired for a long time, hence the need for this first shake that I recommend.

Shortly after this first shake and before the end of the anabolic window, it is best to take a second shake, this time proteins , to be able to recover the muscular structure. You must bear in mind that it will depend on the quality of the protein that absorption occurs more quickly and that we feel better at the digestive level. This is because at the moment right after the exercise we do not have much blood in the organs that intervene in the digestion process.

The blood stays in the muscles to oxygenate them and repair the fibers, leaving the rest of the body a little unsupplied, as happens with the stomach, which must make an effort to assimilate correctly the food it receives and thus be able to repair the muscle fibers. As a result of this process, the quality of our muscles increases, which leads to progress in our general physical condition.

Later, before the anabolic window ends, we must ingest a fast carbohydrate to fill muscle glucose stores. My personal recommendation is the one that contains the boiled potato or the sweet potato. As a protein source, we will follow the same pattern as before, looking at a food that suits us according to our blood group.

Food and training: conclusions

As we have seen, feeding before, during and after sports training is key to optimizing physical performance, and recovery and muscle overcompensation. I hope this mini-guide will help you improve the quality of your workouts and thus achieve your personal goals.

Now, the most important thing: to train!

Fasted Training vs Eating Before Workouts: Study Compares the Difference (October 2022).

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