The internet is polluted with countless literature about pre- and post-workout snacks. Most of the information is fueled by supplement companies trying to promote their products rather than truthfully research what works best. In fact you might be getting a lot of added food colour into your system from consuming these products that in time has to be eliminated from the body.
A better approach is to simply select natural food choices for pre- and post-workout snacks. It is not only healthier but will also keep you from spending money on items you don’t need.
Pre-workout snacks consist of sugar. That is it. Unless you are doing cardiovascular training, your muscles acquire energy in the form of ATP from glycolosis or anaerobic respiration. Glycolysis in Latin means to break sugar. Literally the sugars you each (glucose, lactose, fructose, etc.) are 6 carbon molecules that are cleaved into two smaller molecules that all athletes love best – lactic acid. The harder you pump your muscles the more lactic acid is produced and eventually muscle contraction stops.
So why on earth would you consume protein before a workout which is the advice of many health experts and pre-workout supplements being sold.
So in order to fuel your workouts consume sugars – both complex and simple. Complex carbs are to be consumed an hour before the workout and should be uber easy to digest such as pasta, rice, breads, and other starchy foods.
Simple carbs from food such as fruits can be consumed before the workout as they absorbs quickly into the blood steam and don’t require complex digestion. Remember, muscle cramps can be caused from too much blood being drawn to the digestive tract for intensive digestion.
During your workout it is important to consume as much simple sugars as possible within your calorie restrictions. There will always be sugar in your blood stream and continued absorption of sugars into the blood stream as the complex carbs you consumed continue to digest. The amount of sugar carried in your blood steam is finite and can be expended within minutes through intense anaerobic exercise.
Glycogen stored in the larger muscles and liver also continue to break down releasing sugars into the blood steam; however, this process is inefficient at best compared to supplying your body with a continuous supply of simple sugars that are easily absorbed.
One of the oldest sports supplements I have read about was used back in the 40’s by athletes like Steve Reeves who mixed honey and lemon juice creating their own natural version of a sports drinks. I personally like to drink coffee with 3% milk and raw sugar. Milk is high in lactose, sugar (sucrose) is pure glucose disaccharide that easily breaks down, and the caffeine increase alertness.
On the opposite end of the spectrum are post-workout supplements that contain sugars such as dextrose that help replenish glycogen stores in muscles after a workout. This is complete nonsense. The workout is done. Your muscles and liver will easily replenish glycogen stores in time before your next workout on their own.
Why feed your body extra sugar when you don’t need it to perform?If a glycogen deficit exists it is better for your body to replenish it using your body’s own fat stores.
In fact, the only thing you should eat for a post-workout meal should be rich foods high in protein and other nutrients. After a workout it is time for your body to repair damaged muscles and respond in hypertrophy.
If you are pumping iron your muscles need sugar. There is no way around it. So save yourself the money and consume natural pre- and post-workout snacks.