Let's talk about fueling your workouts...
If you are already crushing 6-9 hours of sleep consistently, eating a variety of fruits and vegetables, and prioritizing protein with every meal, there are some things you can do to improve your performance further in the gym. I do have to mention (like 5 more times) that if you are NOT getting 6-9 hours of quality sleep consistently, eating a variety of fruits/veggies, and prioritizing protein, your efforts to eat to fuel your performance are misdirected. BUT assuming you are crushing it in those three areas, we can talk about how to structure your meals to maximize your performance.
Depending on the time of day you are hitting your workouts, your meals might look slightly different throughout the day, but the meals around your workout generally will look similar. For most workouts, meal structure will look similar, whether it is a higher intensity functional fitness style workout, or a longer strength training session.
GENERAL RULE OF THUMB:
For pre-workout meals, stick with a lean protein, simple carb, and veggies/fruit around 1.5-2 hours before your workout. Post-workout you have a little bit more leeway with the timing of your next meal, because you want to give yourself time to recover, and come out of an elevated state. As we already know, the Window of Gainz isn’t as important as the habits you have in place regarding sleep, nutrition, and water consumption, but it also is sometimes more beneficial for your body to come out of an elevated state before digesting your food.
TRAINING FIRST THING IN THE MORNING:
Realistically, if you’re getting your workout in first thing in the morning, you probably aren’t waking up even earlier to eat 1.5-2hrs before. If that’s the case, try to eat a meal with lean proteins and carbs for dinner the night before, and depending on how you feel, you can have a light snack in the morning before you hit the gym.
TRAINING ON YOUR LUNCH BREAK:
If you are spending your lunch hour getting in some fitness, you might be relying on your breakfast from a few hours before to carry you through your workout. If that’s the case, planning a bigger breakfast will help tide you over in your workouts.
WHEN SHOULD YOU DO FASTED CARDIO?
Never. Just kidding, but only kind of. Fasted cardio has no actual added benefit for burning fat (or calories). If you feel good doing some cardio without eating beforehand, go for it. If you feel like you got hit by a bus every time you try it, it’s probably not a great option for you, and that’s okay.