How you prepare for a workout can either enhance or take away from the exercise benefits. If you are a serious athlete or just want to improve yourself you want to make sure that you’re maximizing your workout effects, not detracting from them. Choosing the proper fuel is important, but so is the timing of when you fuel up around your workout.
Some of the information will depend on what type of diet you are currently on. One way to tell if you’re a carb burner or a fat burner is to take note of how you feel when you skip a meal. If you can skip meals without getting ravenous and cranky (or craving carbs), you’re likely adapted to burning fat as fuel. There is so much variation in scientific opinion about the best sports diet that I don’t recommend a specific diet for competitive athletes. I suggest that you try a couple of different types and see which one makes you feel better and perform well. I have seen lots of high-level athletes successfully go mostly paleo with good success. I’ve observed one college wrestler try to go Ketogenic but felt like he didn’t have enough energy in matches. I’ve seen lots of MMA guys try vegetarianism, which might clean up previous dietary issues but seems to have negative effects on the body within a year. Lots of high-level athletes don’t follow any specific diet, they just eat what they want and don’t pay attention to the effects. The most common ineffective diet I’ve seen in wrestlers is carb addiction. In many many cases it has shortened successful wrestling careers and impacted performance. There is some scientific evidence, and I have seen lots of anecdotal proof, that switching to a higher-carb diet just before a competition (after you’ve been on a low-carb diet) can help to “top off your tanks” to boost your performance, but it appears to be on a case by case basis.
I’ll close by saying that nutrition is one of the few ways an athlete can affect their competitive longevity. By increasing the quality of your nutrition the longer your run should be and the healthier your after sports life will be.
When men exercise in a fasted state and they limit their source of carbohydrates as fuel, which means the muscles will then burn more fat, it can help you get to your leanest, best self by decreasing body fat. In case there are women reading you tend to burn the most fat in the three hours after exercise. Women should avoid eating for at least 90 minutes after exercise. If you choose to eat in this timeframe, it provides the body with carbohydrates to burn, which means your body may not shift into beneficial fat-burning mode.
The combination of fasting and exercising maximizes the impact of cellular factors and catalysts (cyclic AMP and AMP Kinesis), which force the breakdown of fat and glycogen for energy.
Eating a full meal and more specifically one loaded with carbohydrates before your workout will inhibit your sympathetic nervous system and reduce the fat-burning effect of your exercise.
Men and boys can eat after exercise and still maximize their fat burning.3 It should be noted that this study only looked into the effects of consuming carbohydrates — not proteins and/or fats. It would be interesting to see if the results differed depending on the types of foods consumed.
Exercise also encourages your brain to work at optimum capacity by causing your nerve cells to multiply, strengthening their interconnections, and protecting them from damage. Unexpected side effects of exercise include improved sexual function, changes in gene expression, clearer skin, and improved mood and sleep.
The “secret” to increased productivity and happiness on any given day is a long-term investment in regular exercise.
I suggest that you experiment with your best diet and figure out what leaves you feeling the best during competition.