Everyone knows that proper nutrition is just as important as burning more calories than you add to your body while you eat. However, many of us neglect the fact that an ideal nutritional plan is not just about what types of food you eat, but also when you eat them.
For getting maximum gains, you must power your body with the right vitamins, minerals, macronutrients, and calorie levels. However, in doing so, meal timing is of crucial importance. What you eat before a workout defines whether or not you will have the energy to achieve your highest potential during each workout session. For example, carbs can help you maximize your body’s ability to use glycogen to fuel short- and high-intensity exercises. Fat can help you fuel your body for longer exercise sessions. Eating protein enables you to improve muscle protein synthesis, prevent muscle damage, and promote recovery. Thus, failing to eat before you work out means you are missing a huge opportunity to keep your body in a muscle-building state.
Also, alongside following a healthy diet, supplements can be a great way to help kick start your training. Let’s be clear – they are not necessary. Still, since these products may enhance performance, improve strength, increase lean body mass, and reduce fatigue, they are popular among athletes and fitness fans. And, if you might think that supplements are designed mostly for men, you are not the only one. For that, we should blame commercials! However, there are supplements created especially for pre-workout for women that can help you amplify muscle tone or slim from all sides.
- The timing of your meal
To get the most of your training, try to eat a complete meal containing carbs, protein, and fat 2–3 hours before you exercise. That way, you are not still digesting when you hit the gym, but you haven’t gone and used up all those helpful calories yet. Sometimes, you may not be able to get in a full meal 2–3 hours before working out, for example, if you are working out first thing in the morning. In this case, choose foods that are easy to digest, contain mainly carbs, and some protein in the form of a small snack or mini-breakfast. As an idea, you can have a protein-packed green smoothie 30 minutes to an hour before you hit the gym.
- Pre-Workout Meals
If you want to improve your fitness results, maximize the amount of food you consume that builds lean mass, instead of body fat. These are some food ideas that you can eat before you hit the gym.
Prepare yourself a delicious sandwich on whole-grain bread, lean protein, and a side salad, or make an egg omelet and whole-grain toast topped with avocado spread and a cup of fruit. These options are great if your workout starts within 2-3 hours or more, since egg whites are quick-digesting, and whole-grain bread is a quick and convenient medium-digesting carb. Another great idea is lean protein, brown rice, and roasted vegetables, or low-fat fish with brown rice. If you are not a rice fan, switch it with sweet potatoes.
A bodybuilder classic, chicken, and yams are the perfect pre-workout combination. However, you can eat this combination also post-workout. Here comes our favorite – ground turkey and black beans. They go perfectly with a couple of corn tortillas.
Oatmeal is an excellent pre-workout meal, especially when you add protein. Milk contains whey, which is an ideal pre-workout protein, and the slow-digesting oats keep you feeling full. That is a perfect combination if you do your workouts in the morning. The same goes for greek yogurt and fruit or a nutrition bar with protein and wholesome ingredients.
Smoothies are perfect pre-workout food. They are easy to digest and won’t leave you feeling sluggish during your workout. Make (or buy) versions with protein-rich yogurt and fruits. You can use any fruit you have in your fridge. You can also try a protein-packed green smoothie. Use spinach, chia seeds, tofu, almond milk, plain Greek yogurt, and strawberries for flavor.
Fruits are also amazing pre-workout food. Choose fruits such as banana, orange, or apple. Bananas are a great source of natural sugars, simple carbohydrates, and potassium. Eat a banana around 30 minutes to an hour before your workout – it is a perfect way to promote your glycogen stores and raise blood sugar levels. Also, try sliced apple wedges with a small spread of peanut butter (rich in protein). They are one of the most delicious and easy-to-make pre-workout foods. The best time to consume them is also around 30 minutes before a workout.
- Never forget – Drink plenty of water before, throughout and after your training
This one is no brainer – your body needs lots of water! According to a 2012 study, there is good evidence that drinking appropriate amounts of water, especially cold water, can enhance exercise performance in many situations. So, even before you head to the gym, it is best to get your body hydrated. Naturally, everyone needs a different amount of fluids during exercise. However, it is best to start by drinking 16–20 ounces (0.5–0.6 liters) of water at least four hours before training and 8–12 ounces (0.23–0.35 liters) of water 10–15 minutes before exercise. Naturally, you should also try to stay hydrated throughout your workout. Consider drinking water for every 30 minutes of intense physical activity. If you are sweating profusely or you are training in a heated environment, try drinking water every 15 minutes. However, over time, you will soon be able to find what works best for your body.