Whether you are an athlete or just want to keep fit, all people that exercise have some goals to achieve. You may have targets that you want to smash, or find new ways to improve each workout. A key factor that will help you to be better and do more each time is nutrition. The foods that you eat before and after training all play a role in how well you are able to train and how quickly you will be able to recover. When you can achieve optimal nutrient intake right before you train, it can enhance your training, maximize performance, and minimize the damage that your body may incur. As any fitness enthusiast will know, injuries can put a damper on progress and take you back a few steps with training. So, What Should You Eat Before a Workout? Let’s take a look here!
What Should You Eat Before a Workout?
Here are some of the best things that you can be fueling your body with before you train. You will have much more energy when you are fueled the right way and be able to perform better. Things like energy bars are called energy bars for a reason! A lack of energy isn’t going to be motivating or help you to be better, is it? So each macronutrient that you have prior to training plays an important role. For example:
- Your body will use the glucose from the carbohydrates that you have for fuel
- For shorter training or quite intense training (think HIIT workouts), the glycogen stores are the main thing that your muscles will use for the energy that they need
- For longer training sustained for a period of time (like marathon training), then carb-loading can be used to replenish the glycogen stores in the body so that training can be maximized
One of the words that is most associated with fitness and fueling your body, after a workout, is protein. There are many studies to support that protein can help massively. In fact, if you have protein only (or protein with carbs), it has shown that it can help to increase muscle protein synthesis, that is helping with the growth, repair, and maintenance of the muscles which is vital for exercise. Protein can also help with:
- Post workout recovery
- Muscle repair and muscle growth
- Increasing strength and lean muscle mass
- Stronger muscles that can endure more
Fat is a word that we can be a little fearful of when it comes to our diet. However, as long as you are having the right kinds of fat, rather than highly saturated fats, your body can use them as energy. Glycogen is used for short and intense bursts of energy, while fat is one of the main sources for more moderate level exercise. So if you are a beginner to exercise and will be working out at a relatively low intensity, then a diet higher in healthy fats (such as the fats from nuts, seeds, oily fish, and avocados), would be more beneficial to you than a high-carb diet. There was a study that showed that when a group of runners increased the fat intake in their diet to around 40% of what they were eating, their running times increased. This just shows, that the right kind of fat in your diet, isn’t something to shy away from and could actually help you improve your performance.
Timing is Everything
The right food is important, but the timing before a workout is really key too. It is best if you can have a meal two to three hours before you exercise. Of course, this isn’t going to always be possible. However, it is important to note that the closer that you eat prior to exercising, the more simple the food should be, so that your body is able to process it all much more efficiently (something more carb heavy is usually a good idea, with some protein in too).
If you’ve got a lot of time on your hands before a workout, something like avocado on whole grain toast with an egg white omelette and some fruit could be a good idea. For less than two hours before a workout, a protein smoothie with berries and whey powder could be a good idea. And if you have even less time, then yogurt and fruit could be one of the best things to have.
So Tell Me…
Do you have a “go to” pre-workout food? Do you ever exercise on an empty stomach? Do you have a favorite energy bar or healthy snack you always carry with you?
As always, I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below. Thank you so much for stopping by!