I’ve been reading a lot about the importance of nutrition for making gains once the workout is done, as this is the time when real muscle building takes place. But I’ve also read that proper nutrition during the workout is also necessary. With so many supps out there for pre- and post-workout, I think I’m covered. But what should I be taking during my workout?
The purpose of nutrition during exercise is to stay hydrated, boost performance, provide immediate fuel for muscles, preserve muscle, and improve recovery. Therefore, what you take in depends on how long you’re working out and what your goals are.
Before we get to that, eating before training is important in order to keep nutrients working their way around your body. Also, water is critical so you stay hydrated. Keep your water bottle next to you and try sipping throughout the workout when you feel thirsty, which is called ad libitum drinking, or drinking to thirst. A 2014 review of 168 hydration studies in Extreme Physiology & Medicine found that “ad libitum drinking seems appropriate in most exercise and environmental settings.”
Now, for FLEX readers, who typically train for more than 60 to 90 minutes, do multiple training sessions per day, and are trying to gain significant amounts of mass, you’ll need to take in a combination of quick- digesting carbs and a little protein. Foods should be low in fiber and fat to minimize GI distress and provide a quick energy source for your muscles.
Start with 30 grams of carbs and 15 to 20 grams of protein per hour. Liquid sources tend to digest easier and faster than food sources, so sports drinks or combination protein and carb shakes are good options.