By Team PrettyFit

Before we begin, let’s cover the basics.

1. Having slightly more muscle mass allows your body to have a faster metabolism, and therefore allows you to burn more fat.
2. It takes both carbs and protein to build muscle.
3. By timing your carbohydrate and protein intake properly, you can maximize the benefits of your workout.

Your body needs proper fuel in order to operate— plain and simple. Combined with resistance training, it takes both carbohydrates and protein to build muscle and thereby naturally raise your metabolism.

For more info on weight training and fat loss, check out “5 Reasons Weightlifting is Critical For Fat Loss.”

However, the best results don’t just happen from eating the right amount of protein and carbs; they come from eating the right amount of protein and carbs at the right time.

By optimizing the timing of your carbohydrate and protein intake, you can maximize results from your workouts and acquire the physique results you’re looking for.

Studies have shown that proper exercise timing can benefit muscle recovery, growth and athletic potential and body composition— which means the right eating habits can lead to significant changes in your body composition.

Pre-Workout Nutrition Is Key

There’s nothing worse than attempting to workout with low blood sugar. You get headaches, your body aches and you feel much weaker than your normal self.

In order to raise your blood sugar for a workout, it’s always smart to eat a snack or light meal 30 minutes to an hour before your workout.

That being said, it also turns out that proper pre-workout nutrition is vital to maximizing your muscle growth (protein synthesis) after your workout. This will in turn help you raise your metabolism.

According to studies, eating protein and carbs before a workout has an even greater influence on muscle growth than protein and carbs ingested post workout.

Takeaway: Always eat a snack or light meal that contains both carbohydrates and protein before a workout, even if it’s as simple as a protein shake and a banana.

Intra-Workout Nutrition

Intra-workout nutrition? That’s right, studies show that ingesting carbohydrates during your workout allows your muscles to perform more work.

This means potential for more reps and results simply by adding a few carbohydrates to your workout.

Now we’re not saying you need to chug a whole Gatorade or eat a bar during every workout. However, if you perform high-intensity training that calls for a large amount of reps like CrossFit or HIIT, you may want to consider the occasional carb beverage during your workout.

Takeaway: Eating or drinking carbohydrates during your most intense workouts can lead to better muscle performance and result in more gains.

Post-workout nutrition

Though the studies we cited earlier show that pre- and intra-workout nutrition is critical for hitting your body composition goals, studies also show that post-workout nutrition is still important. Consuming carbs and protein during early stages of recovery has been shown to positively affect exercise performance.

However, gone are the days of the “30-minute window” after you work out. As long as you eat sometime after your workout, you’re golden.

ConclusionAs a takeaway, worry more about your pre-workout nutrition than your post-workout nutrition.

Review your workout timing and the eating habits that surround them. Do these habits match up with your goals to change your body composition by increasing muscle and burning fat?

Do you work out in the morning on an empty stomach?

Do you work out right after work on an empty stomach?

Do you practice fasted cardio in the morning?

We recommend the following:

1. Try to find space in your schedule to eat a light snack of protein and carbs 30 minutes to an hour pre-workout.
2. Consider drinking a carbohydrate-rich beverage during intense workouts.
3. Don’t stress over eating right after a workout, as long as you eat at some point.