Before and after training - food and supplements

Before and after training - food and supplements

Before and after training - food and supplements
Before and after training - food and supplements

For decades, the key to building muscle mass has been thought to be a post-workout protein shake. However, the International Society for Sports Nutrition already recognizes that it is more about consuming "quality protein sources" throughout the day. "

On the other hand, an increasing number of studies speak to the importance of carbohydrate intake - especially for maintaining efficiency during short, high-intensity workouts. Below in the material you will find recommendations on what exactly you should eat before physical training.

//  What to eat before training

Another myth from the past is the existence of the so-called "carbohydrate window". The idea was that eating carbs immediately after a workout had a positive effect on muscle growth. Later, the term was changed to "metabolic window" (meaning proteins) - and the boundaries were expanded.

Of course, nutrients are needed to rebuild the body - but it is a mistake to think that muscles need them exclusively before or after a workout. In fact, we are talking about the total daily intake of proteins, fats and carbohydrates (plus vitamins and minerals) - while time is significantly less important.

Among other things, there is no reason to believe that sports nutrition is radically different from conventional foods. Protein shakes can be replaced with chicken and eggs, and casein can be replaced with low-fat cheese. Almost every animal protein is absorbed by 95-99%.

Weight loss or endurance?

The main parameter influencing pre-workout nutrition is goal setting. For example, if you want to lose weight, then the total amount of carbohydrates in the daily diet is recommended to be reduced to 150 g. If you train endurance (marathon running, swimming), you need more carbohydrates.

Prolonged training with high intensity (longer than 60 minutes and at VO  2  max over 70%) requires 30-60 g of carbohydrates for each hour of sports. It is recommended to take high GI carbohydrates dissolved in water, along with electrolytes every 10-15 minutes¹.

Weight training

Weight training

Exercising with heavy weights (in a mode of 3-6 sets of 8-12 repetitions and involving additional training of large muscle groups) increases the body's need for glycogen. As a reminder, glycogen is the processed carbohydrate from food stored in the muscles.

Eating carbohydrates (both in pure form and with protein in the form of a gainer) has a positive effect on muscle gain. But since glycogen production requires at least four hours, it is more appropriate to talk about the total amount of carbohydrates per day - and not just about their use before training.

Most often we are talking about getting 30-50% of the daily calorie intake in the form of carbohydrates (depending on body weight, intensity of training and the desired result - that is, a set of "dirty" mass or drying of the terrain).

Proteins and protein shakes

The International Society for Sports Nutrition notes that the main goal of an athlete should be to consume quality protein sources every 3-4 hours during the day. The recommended amount of protein is 20-40 g (or 0.25-0.40 g per kg body weight) for each meal¹.

It is also noted that the use of casein protein in an amount of 30-40 g at bedtime has a positive effect on the formation of muscle tissue and the rate of metabolism during sleep - without affecting fat gain.

With regard to  BCAAs, the  recommendations are 10 g per day - without reference to training and with a note that essential amino acids are found in the main sources of protein.

What not to eat?

What not to eat?

First, it is important to understand what a "high quality protein source" is. This can be not only a protein shake, but also lean meat, eggs and low-fat dairy products. Sausages, sausages, canned meat and other semi-finished products will become a poor source of protein.

However, poor / good separation is due to secondary ingredients (saturated fats, preservatives and salt) and not to protein structure. In theory, whey protein derived from milk cannot affect the body in any way other than skim milk itself.

Prohibited foods

Second, carbohydrate recommendations are based on low- to medium-GI foods throughout the day (whole grains and vegetables). Products with a GI above 70 units are only allowed if there are less than 4 hours between meals and exercise.

In simple words, sweet and sugary drinks (including fruit juices) should be avoided - or consumed in small doses just before strength training.

Caffeine and energy

Third, the recommendations of the International Society for Sports Nutrition mention that caffeine before training (3-8 mg per kg of body weight) helps to increase muscle glycogen stores - has a positive effect on training itself.

However, we must make a reservation that energy drinks are prohibited - they contain too much added sugar and are also able to speed up the heart rate to dangerous levels and are not recommended for exercise.


During strength training to gain muscle mass, it is important to monitor the total amount of carbohydrates in the diet and to consume quality sources of protein every 3-4 hours. While eating protein within 2 hours after a workout is really important, it is actually included in the basic recommendation.

Data sources:

  1. Position of the International Society for Sports Nutrition: meal time,  source