We all want to get the most out of a workout – to train harder, spin faster, run quicker, jump higher. And, while many of us prepare mentally for a challenging workout, we sometimes forget to fuel the engine or to do it properly.
Pre-workout, there are certain foods that will help our bodies prepare, and which can maximize your efforts in the gym. While we all have different nutritional requirements, these known foods – which are the perfect balance of fats, carbs, and protein – can fuel your body, stave off hunger, fight fatigue, and even aid recovery. So, are you ready to munch your way to success?
Known as nature’s power bar, bananas are packed with carbohydrates and potassium, which supports nerve and muscle function.
Because they are full of fiber, oats release carbohydrates gradually. Due to this slow release, energy levels are kept consistent throughout your workout, meaning you can train harder for longer. They also contain Vitamin B, which helps convert carbohydrates into energy. Irish oats are often considered the best, as they are the least processed type and boast a lower glycemic load than quick-cooking and instant oats. So, keep a look out the next time you go shopping.
If you are working on building muscle mass or plan to hit circuit training hard, then this combo is a must-try. Although it is more of a meal than a snack, there’s a reason pro-athletes chow down on this regularly – and we think it’s time you gave it a go.
For a quick and easy pre-workout snack, fix yourself some dried berries, apricots, figs, and pineapple. Dried fruits are a good source of simple carbohydrates that are easily digestible – so grab a handful.
One slice of whole grain bread is an excellent source of carbs. Add some hard-boiled eggs for a protein-packed snack, or some low-fat turkey.
This is a killer combo. The fruit is full of carbohydrates while Greek yogurt packs a protein-filled punch. Compared to regular yogurt, Greek yogurt has almost double the protein, fewer carbs, and half the sodium. Why do they go together? The carbs in the fruit break down quickly and are used as fuel during your workout, while the protein is stored a little longer and is used to prevent muscle damage, so it really is a perfect pairing.
Nuts do have a high-fat content, but they provide the protein and calories required if you are trying to gain muscle mass. For those whose goal is weight loss, steer clear. If you want to buy pre-prepared trail mix from supermarkets, skip the ones containing chocolate or yogurt -coated nuts.
Make sure you eat your meal and snack 30-90 minutes before you work out, so you don’t feel bloated. If eating a larger meal, wait the full 90 minutes, but if you’re sticking with a snack, 30 minutes should be fine.
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As a bodybuilder, you're trying to stay lean and build plenty of muscle. Consuming a small meal about an hour before your workout--not a heavy one that will sit lean in your stomach--will help you see the muscle growth you're looking for. Your small meal should be made up of equal parts lean protein and carbs. Some great ideas include:
Note that timing and portion control are critical in this pre-workout meal. You want to eat enough to give you energy and fuel your muscles throughout your workout, but you also want to be sure that you're eating early enough and light enough that your food won't sit heavy in your stomach, slowing you down throughout your workout. Combining some of the sources of lean protein mentioned above with the quicker-digesting carbohydrates about an hour before your workout will ensure that you get the nutrition punch you need to keep building muscle.
Exercising for weight loss means maintaining a tricky balance. You want to eat enough to keep fueling your body and give you plenty of energy to complete those demanding workouts, but you don't want to pack on calories that could prevent you from losing the weight you want to lose. Eating lightly around half an hour before your workout will allow you to head in with maximum energy--and combining a complex carbohydrate with a lean protein is the best way to fuel your body.
Keep in mind that your goal is to fuel your body through your workout. Fasting cardio won't have nearly the same results as a properly fueled workout that will drive your success up.
Going into a workout, you want to be sure that your energy levels are high. After all, you're going to push your body hard! If you want to avoid that wall that makes you feel as though you're not going to be able to accomplish your goals, make sure you're providing your body with complex carbohydrates that will help fuel your workout.
These great ideas will give you plenty of energy for your workout:
Women have unique health concerns. They typically don't burn as many calories per day as men, nor do they have the same workout goals. As a woman, you want to make sure that you're keeping your calories low while still fueling your workout. You need that same great balance of carbs and protein, but, depending on your workout, you also need to keep the calories low.
Some great pre-workout treats include:
Finding the right pre-workout combination can be challenging. Once you do, however, you'll discover that you have more energy and can meet your goals faster.
And here's a handy Before & After workout meals guide that will help you stay on top of your game!
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