I've searched pretty extensively in and outside of the paleo/primal community, but it seems that there is no consistency whatsoever on what one should eat before/after exercise. Carbs before, fats before, protein before, never fats after, always protein after, carbs after, fats after; every recommendation is contradicted by another, and I don't know what to make of it.
I'm 5'6", 112 lbs, and am lightly aiming to gain a bit of muscle as well as not lose fat. I'm (sadly) mostly sedentary, but have have been exercising every/every other day for about three weeks including briskly walking(15-30 minutes), intermittent short sprints(2-5 minutes, trying to work on that), and various stretches/resistance activities(10-25 minutes; push-ups, sit-ups, lunges, planks, etc.).
Every day for breakfast/lunch I eat 3 eggs, a whole avocado, and 2-4 cups of spinach, and that is usually the only meal I have pre-exercise; I am usually not hungry for a while after I work out. I've been wondering if the protein/fat combo is the best combination for energy. I've been eating very few carbs, but maybe a sweet potato prior to heading out would keep me energized and wouldn't overload my body with useless starch/sugar? I will not drink protein shakes, so would the eggs be better after? Do I even need protein after?
Help me, Paloehacks, you're my only hope!
There is no consistency because context always applies.
You say you are trying to gain muscle as well at not lose fat, so this one seems fairly straight forward. If you want to gain muscle, protein before and or after is always a solid bet. You could also try adding some starch with your protein after you exercise.
You mentioned that you were considering starch pre-workout to help keep you energized. Although everyone reacts differently, from my own experience starchy carbs pre-workout hurt more than they help. I often feel less energized and slower in my movements; this applies to my weight-training and my burst on the soccer field.
As it relates to soccer, starch eaten the night before seems to keep my energy level up throughout the game. It may be worth it for you to experiment with your starch both pre-workout the night before training and pre-workout the day of your training to see how your body reacts.
You need to find what works for you, which will depend on a number of things, including the time of day, kind of workout and the intensity you put in.
Some people will suggest starch pre-workout. I never need it. I workout and I also do very physical work on construction sites. Maybe you don't either? Find out for yourself.
I workout in the morning on an empty stomach. I don't believe in eating until the stomach feels ready for it so I don't eat after the workout until I get hungry.
Muscles access stored glucose (glycogen) before blood glucose, and it takes awhile for glycogen to form.
As Craig said, if you're going to add starch for better energy levels during exercise,the best time to do it is the night before. If you don't know for certain when you're going to be working-out, you can add a small daily amount of carbs sufficient for your level of activity.
There are some studies that showed a benefit for muscle development with a protein snack after a resistance training session, but those results are not consistently replicated.
Combining protein and starches post-exercise should, in theory, help drive protein to muscles because of elevated insulin, but I don't know of any research that has addressed that specifically. High-intensity exercise (>90% MHR) elevates blood sugar, so insulin is high anyway.
I would try fasted workouts, if you're up for that kind of thing.
I might start doing it myself, actually.
Exercise can irritate the gut. Heard that from Robb Wolf. Wish I would've known this when I used to play soccer... Makes sense.
Also, there is some good evidence that fasted workouts are better for the release of growth hormone and what not...
You could also do a Martin Berkhan kind of thing with 10 g or whatever of BCAAs before a workout, so basically fasting, then eating after. Maybe you would be hungry after your workout if you did it fasted?
Carbs, Protein, little fat after workout most likely. I guess it kind of depends on what you are trying to accomplish, though.
Edit: Ok, so you want to gain muscle. You should start lifting 3, maybe 4 times a week. Do compound movements, bench press, squat, chin ups, dips, shoulder press, rows, back extensions, deadlift. That's probably all you really need. Don't do them all in a day. Challenge yourself but go slow and keep track of progress but don't kill yourself.
Eat a fair amount of protein and some carbs and a little protein after your workout.
That would be my recommendation for building muscle. I don't think running is going to help you much.
Fasted training might not even be necessary for you, I would work out on an empty stomach though.
Fats before strength workouts quick carbs before endurance if have more time for pre wod meal then oatmeal or something then quick carbs after sweet potato a little after that most of carbs should be done post workout then more carbs on non wod days only a cup!