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Pre, During, Post Workout Nutrition

Tuesday, November 24, 2015
Joseph Aratari, CFSC, CPT

Nutrition and a sound workout regime go hand in hand; without one, the benefits of the other are limited. As a strength and conditioning coach for Penfield High School & Next Level Strength & Conditioning my fellow coaches and I are always asked “what should we be eating close to and after workouts?” I wanted to briefly write on pre, during & post workout nutrition and put it as simply as possible for those just striving to increase their performance and make healthy changes in their life’s.


Pre workout nutrition is highly individualized, which is sometimes forgotten among nutritionist and doctors. Some people do not like eating even an hour before workouts, so those people must find a time that works best for them. However, science tells us that we should strive to have carbohydrates and protein, in a 2-3:1 ratio 1-2 hours before a workout. The carbohydrates will fuel our bodies with energy and the protein will be useful in speeding up the recovery process and delaying the breakdown of muscle tissue throughout the workout. People should stay away from fats as this macronutrient takes the longest to digest, thus wasting energy you can use in the gym. In addition to food adequate hydration throughout the day should be taking place.


In training or competition under an hour of total time training/competing your body will only need water. Again preference will come into play but that is what science tells us. For training/games over an hour or extremely high intensity exercise, a beverage with electrolytes is recommended to refuel the body.


Without post workout nutrition the hard work in the gym will not have as many benefits and can also be detrimental to your body if you aren’t engaging in the recovery process to help build/aid muscle tissue. Right after a training session you should be striving to get in carbs/protein in 2-3:1 ratio. The total amount of grams will depend what your specific goals are. Packing a shake and some food, will take some planning, but the 5-10 minutes to pack will benefit you that much more. Protein shakes, chocolate milk, bananas, a turkey sandwich etc…can all a perfect simple post workout snack, again depending on what you like. In addition, strive to get a meal in your body within an hour to help the tissue building process and aiding the body in its recovery process.

Should I Take a Protein Shake?

As I mentioned before a protein shake can be a great pre/post workout supplement to aid in the recovery process and building muscle tissue. However, it’s a SUPPLEMENT which means it should be in addition to an already sound diet. If you eat junk food for the majority of your diet then a post workout shake really won’t do much and you are wasting your money. It’s like putting flashy rims on a junk car! First, strive to track what you eat for a week or two and then determine what changes you need to make. If you belong to a gym bring it in to your coaches/trainers and they will be happy to help you! Only then when your nutrition is sound, should you start supplementing with protein powder.

But What About Specific Foods?

Just like workout regimes food choices are going to be up to each individual person. People should use trial and error to find what foods they enjoy before and after (healthy choices of course). Especially with high school aged kids and adults just starting to try to make nutritional changes in their lives. There is no need to get too strict on finding the perfect type of food and counting exact macronutrients. KEEP IT SIMPLE! & Use common sense. If you have the choice between pizza and soda or chicken, broccoli and rice for a post workout meal, which one sounds better for your body?

Nutrition and exercise need to both be practiced to improve your performance, body composition and overall health. We as coaches will help you all out in any way we can, but it comes down to you to hold yourself accountable to put in the effort to make these changes! I hope this information helps you all reach your goals!
Penfield High School Head Strength & Conditioning Coach
Next Level Strength & Conditioning Coach


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