It is imperative to the overall success of your personal fitness goals that the timing of certain nutrients be understood and adhered to; Timing is Everything.
Your largest meal of the day should be eaten at least two to three hours prior to your workout so that sufficient quantities of glycogen (stored blood sugar) can be stored prior to exercise. Your body burns glycogen much more efficiently than carbohydrates that were just consumed, whether liquid or solid. Remember, you need enough glycogen in your muscle tissue to sustain an intense workout. Since the human body can only store up to 2,000 calories, enough for a 60–90 minute workout, this meal is critical. Try to eat a meal that has about 55–65% complex carbohydrates, about 25–30% protein, and no more than 15% fat. These rations can vary slightly depending on your personal goals and metabolic profile.
If you’ve followed all of the steps I’ve just outlined then, ideally, you should be sipping on water during your workout. However, because of lifestyle dynamics, too often we fail to do the proper thing for our diets all the time. In this case it is acceptable to sip on up to 9–12 ounces of a high glycemic glucose/fructose sports drink or shake during your workout. It is important that we never over work our digestive system while we are trying to expend energy working out. It is equally as important that we exercise at peak efficiency all the time.
This is the most important meal of the day. The body only has a 30 minute window to optimize your workout. If you miss this opportunity to give it what it needs, the window is quickly closed. You will not be able to store as much glycogen as just prior to your workout because the cells that once contained your stored sugars have decreased slowing down your metabolism. By drinking a high glycemic drink with a 3 to 1 ratio of carbs versus protein immediately following your workout, the sugars race into your muscles replenishing the lost glycogen, keeping your metabolism humming. This is key to weight loss or muscle gain. Your body will not gain an ounce of fat, but you WILL realize your fitness goals much quicker. Your body runs primarily on glycogen. The best time to store glycogen is right after exercise. Timing is Everything!