PRE-WORKOUT NUTRITION: IS IT IMPORTANT?
I’ve known quite a few people who will wait to eat until after they have worked out— generally they “earn” their food. But, believe it or not, you should actually eat BEFORE exercising because it can improve your performance over exercising in a fasted state.
WHAT SHOULD YOU EAT?
Your pre-exercise meal should be higher in carbohydrates. Carbohydrates will optimize glycogen stores (glycogen is stored energy). Eating a meal high in carbohydrates prior to exercising also boosts available energy, enhances muscle synthesis, and promotes gastric emptying which allows for a speedy digestive process. Carbohydrates also ensures your blood sugars will be regulated as well.
Here are some suggestions on what to eat prior to exercising:
Bananas: Don’t be afraid of the sugar in a banana because fruit is packed with carbohydrates and potassium! Both of these support nerve and muscle function.
Oats: These are full of fiber, which allows the carbohydrates to be released slowly. Energy levels are kept a constant level due to the slow release of carbs, which means you can train harder! Oats contain vitamin B, which converts carbs into energy. Try Bob’s Redmill Steel Cut Oats, or Gluten Free Rolled Oats. They cook up quickly and you can add in some fresh fruit to top it off.
Grilled chicken, broccoli, and sweet potato: I know, this sounds like a meal, but if you are serious about building muscle when working out, then give this a whirl.
Dried fruits: When choosing dried fruit, look for ones where the only ingredient is the fruit. Sometimes, dried fruits have added sugars and canola oil in them— so steer clear of those! Dried fruits provide a great source of simple carbohydrates that are easily digestible. I enjoy “SOLELY” brand dried fruits.
Whole grain breads. I highly recommend Ezekial bread since it uses whole, sprouted wheat rather than processed flours. It is probably one of the BEST breads out there for you. Top this bread off with some hard boiled eggs for some added protein or some nitrate free turkey breast.
Fruit and full-fat greek yogurt. Why is this a good combo? Well, the carbs from the fruit break down to provide you with energy while you’re working out, while the protein from the Greek yogurt helps prevent damage to your muscles. Plus, it’s tasty and satisfying!
Importantly, eat foods your body is already USED to. This is not the time to experiment with something new and then hitting up the gym. When your body is used to what you’re putting into it, it’s much easier to digest.
WHEN AND HOW MUCH TO EAT?
Try to eat your meal or snack at least 30-90 minutes prior to working out. This is to ensure you don’t feel bloated. If you decide to eat a full meal, 90 minutes prior is best, while a snack is great at 30 minutes prior.
So… yes, pre-workout nutrition is absolutely important! Try to get in some sort of snack or meal prior to working out to optimize your workout and energy levels.
Monica Schwingel, Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and Owner of Nutritionally Empowered LLC
Nutritionally Empowered: Helping real people feel empowered with real nutrition.
I help real people overcome diet culture so that they can have a sustainable and positive relationship with real, nutritious foods, AND with themselves.