Pre-Workout Nutrition

There are days when you feel a lot of energy when working out and then there are also those days when you just feel so tired and don’t have enough energy to spare. This may be caused by your food intake before working out.

There are days when you feel a lot of energy when working out and then there are also those days when you just feel so tired and don’t have enough energy to spare. This may be caused by your food intake before working out.

Pre workout food is important if you want to achieve your goals. It’s not just about the timing although do take note of the recommended timing of when to eat those much needed macros. It’s also the exact kinds of food that you eat before a workout. Good pre workout nutrition helps your body perform better while working out and it also helps you recover faster after every workout.

For a healthy pre workout, eat the recommended food based on on your macronutrients or macros. The best pre workout meal should contain a balance of macros. Some foods contain a mixture of the different macros. Here is the important composition of your pre workout meal:

1. Carbohydrates

Carbs before workout is important. They are an essential source of energy and are considered as a pre workout fuel. Although protein and fats also provide energy, carbohydrates are digested fast therefore the quickest to provide energy. Once you eat carbs, they break down into glucose and go into the muscle cells. The muscles use the glucose for fuel to exercise at maximum capacity.

The muscles store limited amounts of glycogen. Eating carbs before a workout ensures that you will have enough glucose once you need to replenish the depleted glycogen stores. Carbs increase the glycogen that is stored and used by the muscles while boosting carb oxidation during execcise. Carbs are especially important for short and high-intensity workouts and when doing resistance and cardiovascular exercises.

There are different types of carbs and each type of carb has a different impact on the body.

Simple carbohydrates:

These carbs are made made of sugar which are quickly absorbed and digested by the body and quickly provide energy. You should consume simple carbs 30 to 60 minutes prior to a workout.
Ex. White bread, fruits like bananas, dried fruits.

Complex carbohydrates:

These carbs include starch or fiber and take longer time to be absorbed by the body but also provide long-term source of energy. You should consume complex carbs 2 to 3 hours before your workout.
Ex. Whole grain food, beans, sweet potato, broccoli, lentils, oats, brown rice, whole grain bread, granola, vegetables, legumes, quinoa.

2. Protein

Protein is equally as important as carbs for a workout food. Protein helps the body repair the microtears in the muscle fibers and builds the muscles to make them stronger and bigger. Aside from these, protein also increases strength and lean body mass, muscle performance, and muscle protein synthesis.

Pre workout protein is especially good when you do resistance exercises and weight training. These types of exercises damage the muscles but with the help of protein, it increases the number of amino acids in the body. The amino acids reduce deterioration, stimulate growth, and synthesize muscle proteins.

Since the body doesn’t easily absorb protein compared to simple carbs, you should eat foods high in protein at least 2 to 3 hours before a workout.
Ex. chicken, turkey, tuna, salmon, nuts, Greek yogurt, soy, eggs, lentils, beans, nuts, soy, tofu, milk or soy milk, hardboiled egg.

A pre workout shake or bar is not usually recommended unless you are pressed for time before a workout because they tend to be heavily processed and they are high in sugar and other artificial ingredients. The best way to get the macronutrients that the body requires in a day is by eating real and whole foods and not relying on supplements.

3. Fat

Fat is still important for the body before working out contrary to what other people believe in. Healthy fat just like unsaturated fats are highly nutritious and provide a range of health benefits. Fat is a good source of energy for longer and low to moderate intensity exercises. Studies show that people who eat pre workout meals with the right amount of fat have increased endurance in running.

You should eat foods rich in unsaturated fats at least 2 to 3 hours prior to a workout to give the body enough time to digest it.
Ex. avocados, olive oil, nuts, seeds.

4. Water

Drinking water prior to a workout is equally important during and after a workout to keep the body well-hydrated. Not enough water reduces performance, causes spasms or cramps and low energy.

Drink 2 cups of water 2 to 3 hours before a workout and another cup 10 to 20 minutes before your workout. Keep yourself hydrated throughout your workout. There’s no exact formula as to how much water you need to drink. What’s important is to keep yourself hydrated.

5. Green Tea or Coffee

Consuming green tea or coffee 15 to 30 minutes before a workout enhances athletic performance because of the caffeine it contains. Caffeine also increases mental alertness and decreases fatigue. Just consume moderate amounts of caffeine.

Now that you know the importance of eating before working out, you should also know that eating after a workout is equally important. You need to replace the calories that you consumed while working out. Post workout nutrition is also important to replenish the glycogen that was depleted during your workout and also to speed up the recovery of your muscles.