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Article by: Cailyn Schroeder
There are many ideas thrown around about what to eat before a workout and when to eat it. There is substantial evidence that being properly fueled before exercise helps to increase performance compared to being fasted. Carbohydrates are the big focus when talking about pre-workout meals. Research recommends that consuming 140-330 grams of carbohydrates 3-5 hours prior to exercise helps to enhance performance by increasing muscle glycogen stores. (Jukendrup, 2010). What is glycogen? It is the stored form of glucose (carbohydrates) in muscle and the liver. Your body relies on its glycogen stores to get you through a workout. This may seem like a lot of planning ahead to think about pre-workout meals but if you want to maximize your efforts it may be worth it, especially if you have a big hunt planned in a small window of time. Some of you might be thinking about trying or already taking pre-workout supplements. I’ll talk about those in some later articles.
Post workout recovery means eat as much protein right away as possible right? Not necessarily. The ideal post-workout is a combination of carbohydrates and protein. Carb ingestion after exercise helps to replenish the muscle glycogen stores that we discussed above. This replenishment has been shown to have a direct impact on the recovery of endurance capacity (Jukendrup, 2010) which is extremely important in multi-day hunts in the backcountry. Protein balance after exercise is usually negative, meaning that the amount of protein being consumed by the body is higher than the amount being ingested. Consuming protein after a workout can help make that balance positive because protein synthesis (the making of protein in the body from amino acids) is increased. Quick digesting proteins like whey, discussed in the protein article, are the most effective following a workout when containing high amounts of essential amino acids (essential amino acids are ones we need to get from our diet) (ISSN, 2017). After a workout, the International Society of Sports Nutrition indicates that 20-40 grams of protein is sufficient. One particular item in post-workout nutrition that commonly gets overlooked is recovery during sleep. Casein protein was also discussed in the Built2Hunt protein article, and if you remember, it is slower digesting than whey protein. This means if you take it before bed it will digest overnight while you sleep. Consuming 30-40 grams of casein protein has been shown to increase muscle protein synthesis overnight and increase metabolic rate (ISSN, 2017). Although packing for long trips requires strategic planning of what takes priority, making sure you have a solid post-workout, which can be dinner after a long day, can help get you prepared for the next day.
**Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Information presented in this article is based on scientifically published literature and is not intended to be used for specific individual nutrition counseling needs. See “Nutritional Disclaimer” for more.
Jukendrup, A., & Gleeson, M. (2010). Sport Nutrition: An Introduction to Energy Production and Performance (2nd ed.). Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
Jager, R., Kerksick, C. M., Campbell, B. J., Cribb, P. J., Wells, S. D., Skwiat, T. M., … Antonio, J. (2017). International Society of Sports Nutrition Position Stand: protein and exercise. Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, 14.