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  • HuskNutrition

Effective Workout Nutrition

Workout nutrition is not that complicated.

Unfortunately, what you need gets confused by marketing and supplement industries plus diet information spouted by celebrities or magazines, mates and that one shredded guy at the gym and has no clear reference to you.

#1: There is no perfect diet.

Your workout nutrition is individual and should be based on the following:

‘Training age’ and current experience.

Untrained, un-conditioned general population beginners have largely different nutrition needs from bodybuilders or athletes.

If you’re untrained, focus on eating high-quality whole food at meals.

For athletes, workout nutrition targets an already high quality diet.


Women use more fat during exercise than men, some will use as much as 25 percent less muscle glycogen so refuelling guidelines are different.


Both quality and quantity of protein are more important for older trainees than younger people.

Protein as you age is more important to provide adequate stimulus.

Younger your more reactive to smaller protein quantities.

Volume, intensity and training style.

If you’re trying to lose fat, training in a state of low carbs is not a bad thing, whereas if your goal is long-distance performance, low carbs are bad news.

Training fasted or fed.

Getting pre workout nutrition right makes intra-workout nutrition unnecessary unless you’re doing high intensity long duration efforts.

If you’re working out on an empty stomach, this increases the benefit and importance of your post-workout nutrition.

#2: Apply individual needs to achieve fat loss if you’re a novice.

Focus on:

High-quality protein (0.4-0.55g per kg over 4 meals per day)
Essential healthy fat (0.25g per kg over 4 meals a day)
and green vegetables at every meal.

Carbohydrates differ due to intensity, duration and unique needs but an athletic population would typically aim at 3g per kilo per day. That can elevate in athletes to 5-9g per kg.

Depending on training goal you may benefit from a post-workout shake with about 20 grams of protein.

Ideally whey isolate or hydrolysate - you do not need casein or any high fibre items such as protein bars after a workout as it is too slow digesting.

Other workout nutrition supplements such as caffeine, carnitine, creatine, BCAA or EAA are extra and shouldn’t be considered until you’ve got your diet dialed in.

#3: How to apply individual needs to lose body fat if you’re an experienced trainee.

Focus on the nutrition goals listed above with the following variations:

Assuming you’re doing high volume training that will induce muscle soreness, take 20 to 30 grams of protein (preferably whey) post workout.

N.b this is for fat loss, not mass gaining.

There’s no need for supplemental carbs unless you are training twice-a-day and doing dense workouts.

High-intensity training (heavy lifts and short rest with moderate volume (6 to 9 sets per muscle group) has been shown to reduce glycogen by up to 39 percent.

Assuming, workouts are at least 24 hours apart and you are eating carbohydrates you can easily refuel without powder supplementation.

#4: How to use protein when trying to put on muscle.

Studies suggest that if you eat a high-quality protein hitting 2g per kg of bodyweight per day you do not need post workout whey protein.


… the realities of a busy life make not eating before training all too common.

If this is you, post-workout nutrition is well worth it to promote recovery and prevent muscle breakdown and promote fat loss.

The best source is fast-digesting whey protein to promote muscle growth.

If you ate a protein-rich meal before training, post-workout you can go for either whey protein or a high-protein meal containing 10 grams of essential amino acids any time in the 2 hours after your workout.

However you pulse your protein around your workouts, common sense needs to prevail.

If it doesn’t suit you for some reason (too busy, can’t afford it, don’t like it, are allergic to protein powder, forgot it at home, you’d rather eat real food, or your dog ate it), don’t take it.

You won’t start losing muscle or massively delay recovery.

#5: Get the most out of muscle building workouts:

Always eat high-quality protein before and after training.

Combine protein-rich foods with essential healthy fats, antioxidant-rich green vegetables and low glycemic starchy carbohydrates.

Aim upwards of 1.6g/kg of bodyweight in protein a day.

Up to 2.4 g/kg a day may be beneficial for packing on muscle.

Research shows that in studies testing the effect of multiple protein intakes on muscular growth, there is evidence of a ‘protein change’ effect.

In practice this means that increasing protein intake by at least 60 percent over normal during a muscle building training phase will enhance body muscle gain.

The amount you should increase protein intake will depend on what you normally eat.

If you’re eating 1.5g/kg of protein, you could easily bump that up to 2.4g/kg and expect to experience great growth with training.

But, if you’re already at 2g/kg, you have little room to increase protein with much effect.

This gives the idea of cycling protein to coincide with training intensities an option, though it has not been tested in studies.

Whey protein is not only fast digesting; it produces superior muscular development over other protein sources such as casein, soy, or rice protein.

Whey raises glutathione, which is your master antioxidant in the body (it doesn’t need multiple antioxidants to remove free radicals) and has high amounts of muscle stimulating leucine.

Make it a priority to get as much of your protein from high-quality food sources.

Only supplement to reach the daily intake goals if you can’t use food.

#6: How to use carbs when trying to put on muscle.

First, carbs are not necessary to trigger protein synthesis or produce an insulin spike. It is possible that taking carbs with protein long term has additive effect on muscle gains by enhancing the hormonal environment.

Carbohydrates add calories, essential if you’re an extremely active CrossFit athlete!

#7: How to use carbs for athletic performance.

Consuming carbs during training can improve nervous system drive, boosting performance even in cases when glycogen stores are not depleted.

Scientist think there are receptors in the mouth that are able to sense glucose even if additional glucose is not present.

This allows for greater central drive from the brain so that you can keep going.

#8: What Foods to Eat & What to Avoid Before Training

There are some things you want to avoid before asking your body to perform.

They either don’t stimulate the metabolism or they cause other gut or brain issues.

Here’s what to avoid before training:

  • Sports drinks with high-fructose corn syrup or sucrose.

  • Foods that are high in fructose can cause problems in the gut during training. High FODMAP foods such as apples and pears are not ideal.

  • Foods that ferment in the gut are generally not well tolerated during training. These include wheat, most grains, beans and for some people dairy.

  • Huge amounts of caffeine and stimulants can be too stressful. Caffeine can enhance performance, but is more beneficial in the first 8 hours of waking. Use brain stimulants if training later on.

  • Proteins that may be allergens contain problematic nutrients, we may also want to have a lower instance of fatty animal cuts.

Here’s what to eat pre-workout:

Lean meat and fish tend to be your best protein choice because these foods don’t contain other nutrients that cause problems.

If you digest milk well, Greek yogurt is a fast protein source.

Useful fat sources for cooking are those that are easily used by the body like medium chain triglycerides such as coconut oil.

They bypass digestion and are absorbed directly into the liver to be used as an energy source.

The omega-3 fats in fish are also recommended because they are anti-inflammatory and enhance blood flow.

Walnuts, almonds and macadamias are another good fat source since they don’t contain other compounds that are more challenging for the body to deal with.

Vegetables and low-fructose fruit like apricots, dates and bananas tend to be tolerated well as long as you don’t eat large amounts. Just be mindful of fibre.

What to Eat After Training

This is the time to eat carbohydrates, especially if you want to eat high-sugar carbs.

You deplete glycogen (stored carbohydrates) training so the carbs you eat will go to replenish them rather than be stored as fat.

Higher fructose fruits such as pears, apples, and grapes are generally okay as well.

If you’re training two a days, competing or doing endurance or distance work for longer than 90 minutes, consuming a carb supplement or eating fast digesting carbs such as white potato, sweet potato or rices. Pair it with high-quality protein for faster recovery.

Animal protein provides a wide spectrum of amino acids over plant proteins, making beef, chicken, turkey, fish, eggs and wild meats good options. Plant protein sources are recommended as condiments or for variety.

Caffeine should generally be avoided, especially if you consumed it pre-workout, in order to give the adrenals a rest.

High-antioxidant foods such as green veggies and dark coloured fruits are highly recommended because they will provide antioxidants and accelerate recovery.


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