Is there anything worse than missing out on easy gains just because you DIDN’T KNOW?
It turns out this might be exactly what you’re doing right now if you’re not paying enough attention to what you eat before a workout!
Whatever your fitness goals, a great workout is always important. Better workouts produce better results in muscle gain, fat loss, and better wellbeing.
However, the best workouts start with good nutrition: what you eat before a workout can make the difference between great and terrible training. If you’re not focusing on your pre-workout nutrition, you’re sabotaging the progress you’re working so hard for!
Stick with us – we’re going to provide all the information you need on pre-workout nutrition and how you can make small changes to produce big results. If you simply don’t know how to structure what you eat before a workout, we’ve got you covered below!
The Importance of Eating Before Your Workout
Workouts are intensely demanding – that’s why you do them!
You have to place your body in a situation of stress using weights to force it to change. You use weights or gymnastics or cardio to produce this stress, and your body responds using calories and nutrients to support the muscles, joints, and organs during this workout.
Obviously, then, what you fuel your body with is going to be used to produce performance. It’s a simple matter of using what you eat to fuel what you do.
However, some foods are better than others and you can’t just throw a hotdog down and say you’re ready to go. The exact opposite, in fact: choosing the right foods to eat before you work out is one of the easiest ways to improve performance!
We’re going to talk about the specifics further on, but the simple version is that you need energy from food to power your brain, muscles, and organs, while specific types of foods/nutrients can actively adjust how you perform in your workout.
Fig rolls and other fruity snacks
A personal favourite, the fig roll is a simple fruit-biscuit combination that provides a host of natural sugars, plenty of electrolytes, and some higher-GI starches.
This is one of my favourite on-the-go ways to improve carb loading for a workout. They can be comfortably eaten in combination with a drink that is rich in electrolytes and caffeine, for best performance.
These provide a stable source that will be digested and absorbed within an hour, but also provide valuable balance between carb-energy and nutrients!
Bananas are a good combination of simple fruit sugars and a relatively small, tolerable amount of fiber.
This makes them a reasonable choice for sustainable energy. They contain enough energy to b e a short-term choice -and should be eaten somewhere around 30 minutes before training at earliest.
This isn’t a huge fuel source, but if you’re in a pinch and you’ve got an hour of working out ahead, a banana is a solid natural choice. You can even eat two – imagine that!
When to Eat What
As mentioned before, carbs are a key player in the timing of your food and how it affects performance.
With carbs, we’re fortunate enough that GI is a simple way of measuring when to eat them. You don’t get this same direct comparison with other nutrients like fats. Carbs and the GI rankings directly correlate to when they should be eaten.
The higher GI, the closer to training you should be eating them. For example, because oatmeal has a lower GI than fig rolls, you should focus on eating the first earlier in the day and then move towards the latter later in the day or before/during training.
Bananas and melons are richer in sugars and provide some fiber but not huge amounts. This provides a balance where they can be used as a decent pre-workout food in the 30-60 minutes prior to working out without being filled up or heavy.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, foods that heavy starches like potatoes, pasta, etc. need to be kept in the 1-3 hour region to allow you to process them in the body and transport the energy to the muscles and provide carbs for muscle-use.
Carbs should be one of the keys to your pre-workout nutrition but they’re also going to need to be well-structured. Even the best carbs to eat before a workout can be inappropriate if you eat too many or at the wrong time. Carb-loading for workouts should respect the fact that you’re not going to get the same exact response to each food.