Do You Really Need To Worry About Meal Timing After Your Workout?
Ever been confused about what to eat and when to eat it?
Should you eat a protein only breakfast or have some carbs and fat too?
What about meal timing for a workout? Do you have to have a protein shake immediately after your workout if you want to see results?
Do you need to have a protein and carb snack before your workout to provide you with the energy you need to make it through the workout and perform at the level you want?
What about nighttime eating? Is it okay to eat after dinner?
Should you have a protein shake, or other high protein food before you go to bed to help your muscles repair?
That’s a lot of questions and to be totally honest I could go on because I’ve received so many questions about this one topic in the past couple months it’s making my head spin.
I know the root of the questions and we’ll cover that in a bit, but first let’s clear something up…
You don’t have to eat your meals or snacks at some magical “time window” in order to lose weight, gain muscle or be more fit.
Will you get better results if you pay attention to a few of those things? Maybe, but again, you don’t have to become a freak about it.
When someone asks me one of these meal-timing questions, I ask one of my own questions.
That question is, “When you achieve your weight loss goal, are you going to continue worrying about that issue or will it go away?”
More often than not the person is thinking of themselves in two different frames of mind – the person who’s trying to lose weight and the person after the weight comes off.
The problem is the two versions shouldn’t be that different. The version of you who’s trying to lose weight should be pretty close to the version of you who’s going to maintain that weight loss and I highly doubt you’re going to be all freaky deaky about meal timing once you achieve your goal.
I’m sure as heck not freaked out about it and I’m pretty happy with my physique.
Sure you have to be a bit stricter while in the process of attaining your goals than you do in “maintenance mode,” but it’s not that much of a difference.
All of those questions I asked at the beginning fall under a term my buddy Brad Pilon came up with called “obsessive compulsive eating.”
That basically means that we’re too wigged out by meal timing – or to put it better, we allow ourselves to believe what the supplement companies and fad diet writers tell us.
These questions can be answered by following the money. Who’s telling you to drink a protein shake immediately after your workout? Probably someone trying to sell you the protein shake.
Who’s telling you to purchase commercially made snack bars to have before and after your workout? It’s probably someone trying to sell you the bar.
Now, in the art of full disclosure, I do sell protein powders and snack bars…but I’ll never, ever tell you that you have to have them to achieve your goals. Are they an option? Sure and that’s why I offer them…because if you’re going to buy them for convenience…I might as well give you the best option – and make a couple pennies for it too J
Now that I got all that out of the way, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty.
First up is the question about protein shakes immediately after the workout.
The thought goes that you’ve just beat your muscles up and they are screaming for nutrition and are screaming to be fed in order to repair themselves.
You know what? That’s true.
If you did your workout properly, you did beat up your muscles and they are in dire need of the right nutrients in order to repair themselves.
There are two big times your body likes to repair itself – within 60 minutes after your resistance workout (not cardio) and the middle of the night (some say it’s specifically between the hours of 12 and 2…so don’t mess with your sleeping patterns).
So the rationale is if you feed your muscles fast digesting protein in the form of a powder, it will go directly to your muscles and repair them.
Is it true? Sure. Some studies show it to be true.
Do you need to be crazy about it and buy buckets of protein powder and carry it around with you like a crazy person?
Should you freak out if you forget your protein powder? No.
Don’t be an obsessive-compulsive eater.
In the grand scheme of things, it’s not as important as it’s made out to be by folks trying to grab a hold of your money.
I’ve known many, many people who have achieved their weight loss and fitness goals without caring one iota about getting a fast digesting protein and carb snack immediately after their workout.
Let me give you a few scenarios to show you some options.
Scenario #1: The Early Morning Worker Outer (like my words?)
This person does their workout first thing in the morning. They get up, “wake up” and then do their workout – many times before the rest of the household has gotten up.
If you’re that person, here’s what I suggest. The closer your workout time is to getting out of bed, the less you should eat/drink (in terms of calories…not water) before the workout.
I say that because the bigger your meal/snack is the more blood will be sent to your digestive system which would otherwise be sent to your muscles. This could lead to a poor quality workout and poorly digested food. Or your stomach could get upset and you’ll either become nauseated or blow chunks…neither of which is cool.
So if you get up, warm up and workout…eat nothing.
If you get up and have 30 minutes before you workout, then have a light snack like a piece of fruit and some yogurt or a slice of whole wheat toast with some all natural peanut butter along with a big glass of water.
Then, after your workout, have your regular breakfast. Don’t freak out about the amount of protein, etc. Just eat a healthy breakfast and you’ll be fine.
Scenario #2: The Freedom Exerciser
If you have a bit more freedom in terms of timing your workout, then a good idea would be to time it before you have a meal. That way you could eat a high quality meal in the all-powerful “repair window.” But again, don’t freak out about what to eat, just eat a healthy meal and you’ll be fine.
Scenario #3: The Evening Exerciser
This could be the diciest because the last meal of the day is often times the most loaded with calories and an easy justification for eating MORE is to workout before your dinner.
Don’t be that person.
The same tip I gave in the “freedom exerciser” in terms of timing your workout and meal should be applied here as well. Just don’t freak out about what to have – just make it a healthy meal that’s not loaded with calories because the workout left you famished and ready to eat an entire cow.
I’ve heard way too many stories of people who are frustrated with their lack of progress, yet these same people justify eating big meals “because they worked out.” Don’t be that person. Remember that you’re trying to lose weight and in order to lose weight you have to eat less…not justify eating more because you worked hard.
I don’t know if I confused you more than I educated you, but I hope you learned something.
My main point was to let you know you don’t have to freak out and buy into the meal-timing hype.
People have been losing weight for years with no regard to getting a protein shake immediately before and/or after their workout, so why is it so important now? Because the number of voices telling you it’s important (and trying to sell you something) are more and are more believable.
Should you get some protein in after your workout? Yep.
Does it need to be in the form of an expensive and overly hyped shake? Nope.
Do you need quality nutrition before and after your workout? Yep.
Does it need to be in the form of an expensive and overly hyped shake? Nope.
Get my drift?
Talk to you soon!
P.S. – This article is taken directly from my book, “The Fit Dad Says.” That’s just ONE of the 66 Tips, Tricks and Philosophies you’ll discover. To grab your copy and receive FREE shipping, head to –> TheFitDadSays.com/The-Book