There are opinions galore when it comes to what you should eat before a workout. Some believe in intermediate fasting or prefer to chug an energy drink, while others fill their bellies to fuel their bodies for a workout.
So, should you eat before a workout? The quick answer is yes! We’ve all heard the timeless metaphor that our body is an engine and it needs gas in the tank to run. That rings true, especially when it comes to properly nourishing your body before a workout
Loading your body with proper nutrients is a surefire way to get the most out of your workout and reach your fitness goals. In an article from Self, registered dietitian Jessica Jones said, “Not eating enough before a workout can make you dizzy, lightheaded, nauseated or lethargic. It can also make you more likely to injure yourself. And even if none of these things happen, skipping food can negatively impact your performance and reduce your gains.”
On the flipside, eating too much before a workout can end with an unwanted trip to the bathroom. So, what should you eat before a workout to pack your body with energy?
Before a workout, you should eat a healthy dose of proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Consuming protein pre-workout has been found to improve athletic performance, promote muscle growth, as well as increase strength and lean body mass. The need to consume carbohydrates shouldn’t surprise you. How many times have you heard the phrase, “carb up” or “carbo-loading”? Carbs are the body’s main source of energy because our muscles use the glucose from the carbs for fuel. Don’t let the low-carb diet tales fool you! Lastly, you’ll need some fat — and no, we’re not talking about pizza! Fats fuel your body for longer periods of exercise, like distance running.
Your pre-workout meals don’t have to be boring and tasteless (rice cake anyone?). Here are a few easy, delicious and nutritious ideas to get you started:
- 1 slice of whole wheat toast with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter and ½ sliced banana
- A protein smoothie
- Almond butter and apples
- A 7-inch round whole wheat pita stuffed with grilled veggies and 2 tablespoons of hummus
- A veggie omelet with avocado and ½ cup of roasted potatoes
- Glass of chocolate milk
Proper hydration before a workout is equally as important, as sweating causes us to lose fluids. To sufficiently replace those fluids, you need to hydrate before, during and after a workout. Doing so reduces your risk of heat stress, maintains normal body function, and improves performance levels. How much water should you drink before a workout? The American College of Sports Medicine recommends drinking 8–12 ounces of water 10–15 minutes before beginning any physical activity.
Pre-workout food options are endless, so experiment and see what works best for your body. Just remember to try and include each macronutrient – protein, carbs, and fat – and plenty of water … and it never hurts to channel your inner Arnold!
Picture Credit: Google Creative Commons Licenses, Unsplash