You won the battle over apathy. You have summonsed the willpower to get to the gym
and push your body to its limit. Do yourself a favor, and make certain your body is
properly fueled with an appropriate pre-workout snack.
1- When to Eat?
Timing is everything. Eat too soon and you will not receive the nutritional benefits of
your pre-workout snack. Worse, undigested food will make you sluggish and tired. Tufts
University recommends eating 30 minutes to 4 hours before you exercise. Calorie
consumption is key though. You should stay between 50 and 100 calories if you are
eating 30 minutes prior to a workout. When you have an hour before a workout, try to
eat 100 to 200 calories. 2 hours or more prior to a workout, eat 200 to 300 calories.
2- Carbohydrates or Protein?
Carbohydrates are the fuel your muscles need to survive your workout. When you
consume carbs, they are converted to glucose which is what your muscles need to keep
you from feeling tired and weak. If you want to survive your exercise regimen, you are
going to need to fuel up on carbohydrates. According to the International Society of
Sport Nutrition (ISSN), the need for carbohydrates increases pre-workout if you avoid
carbs early in the day or consume a low-carb diet.
If you think you can skimp on protein, you are wrong. Compared to consuming
carbohydrates alone, the ISSN recommends combining carbohydrates with protein
which has proven to increase endurance performance. Over the course of your workout,
your bodies muscles begin to breakdown. Consuming protein not only slows the
breakdown of muscles, it helps muscles recover and grow.
3- What about Fat?
Healthy fats are an important part of a balanced diet. They are excellent for controlling
hunger because they digest slowly. During a workout, you need your fuel to burn energy
quickly. This is why carbohydrates, which quickly convert to glucose, are the fuel of
choice for a pre-workout snack. For the best results, and to avoid feeling bloated,
minimize your fat consumption in pre-workout meals.
4- What to Eat?
Examples of carbohydrates:
- Small Fruit (banana, apple, berries, etc.)
- Whole-wheat bread
- Rice cakes
Examples of proteins:
- Greek yogurt
- Cottage cheese
- Nuts/Seeds or Nut/Seed butter
- Sliced meat
- Protein powder
Have fun and be creative. Just remember to pick a carbohydrate and a protein. A quick
and flavorful idea is an apple with almond butter. Greek yogurt is a star because it
combines protein and carbs. Try adding a handful of granola and a touch of honey to
Greek yogurt for a quick snack on the go. If you have access to a microwave, a hearty
bowl of steel-cut oats with nuts and protein powder is a dynamite snack.
See you soon,