If you're trying to get the most of your workouts, what you eat and when matters. We checked in with Team Leader and Chief Scientist of You Plus, Dr. Steven Willey to hear what he recommends for your next pre-meal workout.
"The best foods to keep you energized through a work out need to be eaten at the correct time. One to three hours before your work out, you should eat a protein source combined with slow digesting carbs, such as whole grains or other high fiber item. For further refinement, an ideal thing is to take a branched chain amino acid supplement immediately before working out. The data suggests it lowers our perception of being tired and we tend to work out even better as a result."
WF: How do you know if you are working hard enough?
Dr. Willey: To know if you're working hard enough at cardio, I recommend using the Willey exertion scale. It goes from 1-15, where one is essentially doing nothing and 15 is where you are at such a maximal effort you are at your absolute limit. Shoot for 7-10 on this scale. The research shows that people who exercise at an 8 tend to stick to an exercise program the longest. For resistance exercise, for any sets after your warm up, I generally recommend 8-12 reps at a weight where the last two reps require a significant effort to complete.
WF: How can women build more muscle?
Dr. Willey: To build lean muscle or to lean down, you need to stick to a higher protein lower carb approach. Again, timing can make a big difference, and taking in whey protein or a branched chain amino acid supplement right after exercise is most effective. Within 30 minutes is ideal, if you get past 2 hours the tables turn on you and this post work out opportunity window closes.
Team Leader and Chief Scientist of You Plus, Dr. Steven Willey has been practicing internal medicine for 20 years at St. Luke’s Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri. He holds a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Illinois, a medical degree from Northwestern University Medical School, and attended Stanford University to complete his medical internship and residency. He also acts as the Medical Director at Maryville University.