We all know that our main objective in exercising is to maintain good health. What we eat before and after we exercise plays an important role in achieving this objective. We should eat well so that our body can have the energy not just to exercise but also for our day to day tasks.
A balanced mix of carbohydrates and protein is good for both cardio and resistance workouts. For varying intensity of workout levels, you also need to vary your food mix. Depending on what you plan to do, the amount of protein and carbohydrate you need to consume will have to adjust to it.
Make sure you take a meal no less than an hour before you exercise. For a low intensity workout, a 200-calorie or less pre-workout meal would be just right. A high intensity workout level would of course need more energy and your meal should be between 4,000 and 5,000 calories.
Resistance exercises require a more elaborate mix of protein and carbs. Ideally a mix of 2/3 protein and 1/3 carbohydrates is best. The higher level of protein will help control muscle breakdown to a minimum while the carbs will provide you the energy you need to perform your exercise sets.
Cardio exercises would require a reverse ratio. This time, you will need a distribution of 2/3 carbs and 1/3 protein. This mix will give the extra carbs you need for longer sustained energy while the protein would be just enough to keep your muscle breakdown to a minimum.
What you eat after you exercise is equally as important. Any form of exercise, whether resistance or cardio, depletes your energy which is in the form of glycogen. Glycogen is a main source of fuel for your brain and nervous system and a lack of it will force your body to break down muscle tissue into amino acids to compensate for the need for usable fuel for your nervous system and your brain.
After finishing a resistance exercise regimen, it is expected that muscle tissue breakdown has happened because resistance exercise causes what are called micro tears. This will in turn prompt your body to go into repair mode after you exercise. Since protein is a primary key to muscle repair, is it important that your after-exercise meal should contain a right combination of protein and carbs. The protein assists the muscle repair while the carbs will replace lost glycogen and these will help prevent further muscle breakdown since the body will not need to break down muscle tissue into amino acids anymore and the break down caused by micro tears will be repaired.
The ideal time to wait before eating after a resistance workout is about 30 minutes, This will help prevent you from taking blood away from your muscles right away. Blood in your muscles removes the metabolic waste products and this will aid your muscle's repair process more.
A cardio session will require an after-exercise meal of mainly carbohydrates, especially those with high fiber. Whole wheat pasta, or even just rice or oatmeal are ideal sources. Check also some high fiber fruits to go with your meal and it is advised to take this within 5-10 minutes after your cardio session. Try to consume up to 30-50 grams of carbs.