Pre + Post Workout Fuel: Fighters Fuel

Pre + Post Workout Fuel: Fighters Fuel
October 15, 2014 EBF

Fuel – Our resident Nutrition Guru Tara Hatala @ gives us some advise on Pre+Post Workout eating.


Everybody Fights. Everybody Fuels.

Just as there are many punch combinations to throw at your opponent, there are food combinations to fuel your workouts. Fueling before and after exercise enhances the hard work you put in the ring.

Yes, you can go swimming after you eat. Remember the myth stating you had to wait an hour between the two? It’s based on the fact that your muscles and digestive system compete for the same blood supply. Some thought if you swam after eating, your muscles wouldn’t receive enough blood and cramp up, leaving you to drown. Fortunately, you can eat and fight those waves.

Fueling before exercise is necessary. It prevents low blood sugar. (Who needs to be lightheaded during your workout, let alone a Box-FIIT warm up?) It tops off the energy stores in your muscles (glycogen) so you can burn them as fuel. It prepares you mentally. Knowing you are well-fueled gives you confidence to fight stronger and longer. And surprisingly, it helps you burn more calories – important if you’re exercising to lose weight. We burn more fat when exercising, but we need to burn more calories as a whole for the day to create that deficit.

Fuel How much gas do you put in your car, then? Each person is unique. There is no right or wrong choice, but there are guidelines. Even if you’ve never pre-fueled, consider training your gut as you would train your muscles and lungs. Start with small amounts until you reach 200-300 calories within the hour you work out. Make carbohydrates the focus with protein the supporting role whether you are pre-fueling with a meal or snack. Get those carbs in like a powerful shoeshine!

Guidelines for a 150 pound person:

4 hours before – 2g carbohydrates per pound of body weight (1,200 calories)

2 hours before – 1g carbohydrate per pound of body weight (600 calories)

15-60 minutes – 0.5g carbohydrate per pound of body weight (300 calories)

A little fat and protein can help you feel fed longer and protect your muscles. But, HIGH-fat, HIGH-fiber or HIGH-protein meals and snacks can cause intestinal distress. Stick to the tried-and-true of low-fat, carbohydrate-rich meals and snacks that contain some protein. Think oatmeal and bananas (yes, grains have protein), pasta with meatballs and tomato sauce, an egg sandwich, fruit and yogurt smoothie with low fat granola, cottage cheese with crackers and fruit, roast beef and Swiss on a roll with fruit, etc. Eaten in larger portions as meals 3-4 hours before exercising or smaller portions as snacks an hour before is your choice. Even a few bites within the hour of exercising (hello morning athletes) is beneficial. Can do solids? Drink it up! Remember, everybody is different.

Refueling is just a crucial part of your training program! Consider it the cool-down for your insides. Right after exercise, your muscles need to assimilate amino acids from the blood to build and restore muscle tissue, and to absorb carbs to replenish glycogen. Carbohydrates stimulates the release of insulin which escorts the carbs into the muscle. Consuming carbs plus a little protein (10-20g) is even better. The protein reduces cortisol, a hormone that breaks down muscle.

Now, about that recovery window. It’s longer than most people realize. Yes, your muscles are primed to reabsorb what was lost in the hour after exercise to but they also continue to take up nutrients over the next 24 hours, albeit at a lower rate. You do not need to fuel immediately. But you do need to refuel. The most effective combination guide is like a left-left-right-hook, or a ratio of 3:1 of carbs to protein. A full-on protein shake is not the right fit here. A carb-rich fruit smoothie with Greek yogurt is a better fit.

Recovery snack and meal suggestions include graham crackers with peanut butter/milk/fruit, sports drink plus a sports bar, turkey and veggies on a whole wheat pita sandwich, a rice bowl with beans, cheese, salsa, avocado and whole grain tortilla chips or stir fry steak and veggies with brown rice. As with pre-fueling, you can go the liquid route here too. Low-fat and skim milk can be just as effective restoring protein, carbs and electrolytes. Remember to consider natural foods whenever possible. (Shirriffs, Watson, Maughan 2007) show the power of chocolate milk:


Beverage 8 ozSodium (mg)Potassium (mg)Protein (g)Carbohydrate (g)
Low-fat milk100400812
Chocolate milk150425826


It may take practice to find the pre- and post-fuel combinations that work for you mentally and physically. As in the gym, it takes hard work and dedication. But remember, everybodyfights, everybody’s different.

For more health and nutrition tips reach out to Tara at


Men’s Health – Torch Your Core and Upper Body Using Just a Medicine Ball