Unless you’re working out from 6am – 7am, you need to fuel your body before each workout. An empty stomach can distract you during workout.
The best foods to eat before exercising depend on the type of workout and a person’s goals.
While choosing a pre-workout meal, it is important to aim for a balance of macronutrients. Macronutrients are dietary compounds that the body needs in large quantities to function correctly and their intake depends upon the intensity, type of training and your overall diet.
The three macronutrients are:
Macronutrients are all key sources of energy, but each can contribute differently to a pre-workout meal.
Pre-workout meals containing protein provide us with a major benefit – the prevention of muscle catabolism.
There are two types of carbohydrates: simple, high glycaemic index carbohydrates, and complex, low glycaemic index carbohydrates. But which one is best pre-workout?
Key Essentials Before Deciding upon When to Eat
- The timing and frequency of food and fluid intake should be carefully monitored to assist the athlete and physically active person to improve exercise performance. Frequent eating occasions allow athletes to increase energy intake while concomitantly reducing the gastric discomfort of infrequent large meals.
- Avoid too much fat. This is because, although high in energy with 9kcal per gram, fats are slow digesting. This means, instead of making you energetic, they can make you feel sluggish and heavy.
- Consume a good source of protein before a workout to give your body the amino acids (branched-chain amino acids in particular) that it needs to prevent muscle breakdown, whilst aiding muscle recovery and growth. The following are some examples of healthful foods that are rich in protein, fish, such as salmon and tuna, poultry, such as chicken and turkey, nuts, beans, lentils, eggs and soy.
- Consume complex carbohydrates 2–3 hours in advance, and any simple carbohydrates 30–60 minutes in advance.
- Fruits are the best source of simple carbohydrates before a workout. Bananas are a popular choice, as they contain potassium as well as simple carbohydrates.
- Consume both water and sodium before exercise. This will improve fluid balance. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends drinking 16–20 ounces (0.5–0.6 liters) of water at least four hours before exercise and 8–12 ounces (0.23–0.35 liters) of water 10–15 minutes before exercise.
Some Pre-workout Food Options
- Brown rice with chicken
- Peanut butter sandwich/Bagel with honey
- Spinach omelette
- Porridge oats
- Protein Bar
- Fruit Smoothies