Properly nourishing your body prior to a workout and post workout is extremely important and helpful if you want to see results whether that be fat loss or muscle gains.
Like I mentioned in The Truth about Carbs post, our chief energy source comes from carbohydrates and they are easily depleted which is why our bodies continual crave them. It is recommended that you eat a high-carb meal 2 to 4 hours before exercising.
So how much is a high-carb meal? Well, that can get a little tricky. Research shows that you should generally eat about 30 to 60g of carbs prior to working out. This number depends on your goals, your workout intensity, and your energy level. You can play around with it and see what number works best for you. I will try to eat around 30 of carbs about 2 hours before my workout when I exercise in the evenings and I will eat around 35-40g of carbs when I exercise first thing in the morning.
Another thing to note is if you are going to be working out for longer than 90 minutes (such as marathon runners) your muscle-glycogen stores become depleted therefore causing a decrease in your endurance. For athletes it is recommended to consume between 30-60g of carbs ever hour to be able to maintain glucose levels and energy for performance.
For post-workout it is very important to replenish your glycogen stores with a high-carb intake, another 30-60g is a good range to stay in. I usually will eat close to 50g post workout. I also workout at a high intensity level, no steady state cardio hereJ
Carbohydrate Food Sources: Fruit, brown rice, oats, whole wheat pastas and breads, vegetables such as potatoes, peas, corn, etc…
As for protein, it is recommended to follow a 2:1 ratio of carbs to protein. If you eat 30g of carbs pre workout, you would want to eat 15g of protein with it as well. This goes for post workout too.
Complete Protein Sources: Whole egg, yogurt and granola, milk, oatmeal with milk, meat and poultry, fish, rice and beans, peanut butter on whole wheat bread, etc…
20-35% of your total caloric intake should be fats and for athletes this should be more like 20-25%. You can divide that number between all your meals. For instance If you were eating a 2000 calorie diet you would eat 40 to 70g of fat and if you ate 5 meals a day, you would be eating between 8 and 14g of fat at each meal.
Fat Food Sources: olive oil, avocado, peanuts, almonds, salmon, flaxseeds, whole milk, cheese, eggs, coconut oil, etc…
The moral of this post is that you need to be properly nourishing your body to meet your goals of weight loss, maintenance, weight gain, and/or adding muscle. Nutrition is the main key to the puzzle of altering your body composition.