IdealShape Up Challenge

Nutrition Challenge 3: Eat to Optimize Your Workouts

Hey everyone! Now that you’re eating five meals a day, including the perfect breakfast, let’s look at optimizing your workout nutrition. This is especially powerful if you’re doing the exercises in the IdealShape Up Challenge.

Here’s why it’s critical: during a strength workout, your muscles use glucose (available energy) and glycogen (stored energy). Once these energy sources are depleted, you can’t continue your workout effectively. At this point, your body will start to produce cortisol, your stress hormone, which will eat at your muscle tissue and convert it to glucose in order to keep fueling your workout. This is exactly the opposite of what we want!

The goal is to eat to build lean muscle mass, because that muscle will increase your body’s fat burning efficiency. So I’m going to show you exactly what to eat. Keep in mind that what your body needs before and after a workout is slightly different…

Pre-Workout Meal

To properly fuel your workout you need a good balance of protein and carbs. Most people can handle a little bit more carbs than protein in this meal, but you need to make sure you’re getting a serving of each. You want this meal to be low in fat, because fat slows the digestion of the meal and the goal here is quick energy.

In addition to a complex carb (such as grains), including a simple carb (like fruit or honey) will give you quick energy that you can use to jumpstart your workout.

A few ways to get the protein/slow carb/fast carb balance: IdealShake with fruit, oatmeal with honey and cottage cheese, egg whites in a whole wheat tortilla with fruit

Post-Workout Meal

You want this meal to be utilized quickly so that you can begin the muscle repair and recovery process. Like your pre workout meal, you want this meal to be low in fat because fat will slow digestion.

For protein, choose a fast acting protein with a high leucine content to get protein synthesis (the process of repairing/building muscle tissue) started as soon as possible. Whey is ideal for this. For carbs, a fast-digesting carb will quickly begin refilling lost glycogen in the muscle and glucose levels in the body. Simple carbs are actually really beneficial in the post workout meal and this is a good time to include some sugars if you’re craving them!

A few ways to get the protein/fast carb balance: grab a protein source of your choice and add fruit (we love using IdealShake to whip up dessert smoothies from the Smoothie Book). Opt for carbs that are low fat and low fiber. Even low fat candy, caramel rice cakes, breakfast cereal and low fat graham crackers are approved here!


Strawberry Cheesecake Protein Smoothie Recipe

Your Challenge for This Week

For three workouts this week, I want you to construct ideal pre- and post-workout meals. For your pre-workout meal, have one serving of carbs and one serving of protein. For your post-workout meal, have one serving of protein and one serving of simple carbs. Don’t forget to factor these meals or snacks into your five meals a day.

Tip: For most people, eating a pre-workout meal anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours before is ideal. Play with this and see what feels good for you. The goal is to feel energized — not full and sluggish or hungry. After your workout, protein synthesis is at its highest when a good carb/protein meal is eaten within about 45 minutes.

Track Your Results

See if eating a pre- and post-workout meal helps you…

  • Have more energy and strength while exercising
  • Avoid overeating or grabbing junk food after your workout (because you won’t be famished)
  • Build more muscle or lose more fat over the next 3-4 weeks

When you have completed this challenge, post in the comments or over on the Facebook page and tell us which workout meal was your favorite!

– Lindsey

P.S. Nutrition is only part of the puzzle. Sign up for the full challenge and get short, ultra-effective workouts delivered straight to your email each week! Click here to sign up


Lindsey Mathews

Lindsey Mathews

Head Trainer

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