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10
04
2010

Nutrition: Pre/Post-Workout Guidelines (Alan Aragon)

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Alan Aragon is a nutritional expert that I hold in the highest regard. His advice is extremely effective, yet simple to understand. I get a lot of questions about pre-workout and post-workout nutrition, so I figured I would post Alan’s excellent advice here for everyone to review:

The protocol I recommend currently is strikingly similar to the original, with a few VERY insignificant tweaks. Note that TBW = target bodyweight:

60-90 minutes preworkout, have a solid, balanced meal:

Protein = 0.25g/lb TBW
Carbs = 0.25g/lb TBW
Adding fat at this point is fine, use your discretion as long as it fits into your macro goals. Note that this meal is skipped if you train 1st thing in the morning.

[OR]

30-0 minutes preworkout – (and/or sipped throughout the workout), have a liquid or easily digested meal:

Protein = 0.25g/lb TBW
Carbs = 0.25g/lb TBW
If you were going to train for close to or more than 2 hours continuously, it would definitely benefit you to have this extra preworkout meal either immediately prior to, or sipped during training. Keep the fats here incidental & not added if you’re prone to gastric distress during training.

Within 30 minutes postworkout, have either a liquid or solid meal:

Protein = 0.25g/lb TBW
Carbs = 0.25-0.5g/lb TBW, depending on how carb-restricted your diet is.
Amount of fat here doesn’t matter as long as your daily target is hit.

Post-postworkout is simply your next sheduled meal, whether it’s 1, 2, or 3 hrs later simply doesn’t matter – especially if your immediate postworkout meal was designed as above.

NOTE: The small differences are mainly geared toward simplifying the guidelines. The rest of the recommendations about food types are pretty much the same. Also note that I no longer give a damn about GI, it doesn’t really make a difference one way or another. If you want high GI carbs pre and/or during training, go for it. As time has passed, GI has proven itself to be a worthless, irrelevant index. Insulinogenesis is a separate issue, and slight elevations during & postworkout is a great idea. This accomplished by both food type & food amount, the latter being more important. To boot, the necessary insulin elevations for maximal net gains in protein balance are easily met without specific attempts at spiking it up. There’s obviously a lot more to this, but that’s the important basics. The rest is fringe.

Glycemic Index (GI) has gotten a lot of attention over the past few years – white bread is nutritionally worse than wheat bread, stay away from pasta, etc – and Alan rightfully dismisses it as bunk. It makes a difference in diseased/afflicted populations, but it is all but irrelevant for the average human. People love to focus on “fringe” issues, because it makes them feel intellectually superior – yet they don’t even focus on the basics. As a good friend of mine always says, “Focus on what matters.” And what matters in nutrition for athletes is:

  1. Set target calories.
  2. Set target protein (1.0-1.5g/lb TBW).

Everything else is simply not relevant until you get those basics down and comply with them for a long period of time.

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