Pre-Workout Meals: the When, What and How Much – Do you have a habit of going to the gym on an empty stomach or do you grab a snack beforehand? If you choose to eat, do you grab a handful of nuts, an energy bar or a protein shake?
The truth is that your workout will be half as productive and twice as hard if you don’t eat properly before the workout.
Pre-Workout Meals – When, What and How Much
Hitting the gym on an empty stomach can cause muscle tissue breakdown. Just imagine your body as a vehicle and you’re about to go on a 500 mile trip. Could you set off with an empty gas tank? No, of course not.
Without fueling your workout, your body will convert muscle tissue into glucose in order to get the required energy. This breakdown can negatively impact your metabolism.
In order to fuel the body properly pre-workout, one should understand its ways of using energy. Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is a chemical compound or an energy molecule that the body uses for work. It is stored in muscle cells and provides energy during its chemical breakdown.
The first source of energy comes from the breakdown of ATP, which is stored in small amounts in the cells at any time.
The next fuel reserve that the body depletes is sugar (glucose), and after that, the body starts breaking down glycogen (stored carbohydrates).
Energy needs are determined by the intensity and duration of your workout routine. Let’s see some inputs on.the pre-workout meals for the exercises.
#1 Assess Your Workout Intensity
The higher the workout intensity, the larger the meal. You don’t have to get stuffed with snacks if you’re going on a 30-minute walk in the morning, because it doesn’t require as much energy as a demanding exercise routine.
For example, you don’t need a 200-calorie snack if you are about to burn only 350 on the elliptical.
#2 Right Timing
Complex meals containing fiber, fat and protein take longer to break down. However, you should eat food that will be digested more quickly within an hour before a workout.
Undigested food can feel heavy in your stomach and is useless as fuel, so timing is everything. The closer you get to your gym time, the simpler your pre-workout meals should be.
#3 How to Fuel Up?
Complex meals like avocado and roasted vegetables or a lean-protein sandwich on whole grain bread should be consumed within 2-3 hours of a workout.
The food can be digested and absorbed into your blood in that amount of time. However, if you plan to perform a workout of the same intensity within 1-2 hours, then a small bowl of cornflakes with a plant-based or organic skimmed milk, puffed brown rice or other whole-grain cereal is an ideal pre-workout snack.
Milk provides sustaining proteins, while the cereals provide energy from their easy-to-digest calories. Another great option is a good protein shake like optimum nutrition gold standard whey.
Whey protein is digested fast, so a whey protein shake before a workout can aid building muscle mass, muscle healing and supply energy.
#4 What to Avoid Before Training
Be sure to avoid eating sweets and raw sugar before a workout, because it causes a strong sugar rush and an inevitable crash quickly afterwards.
Never overeat, because the symptoms related to pre-workout overeating are nausea, sluggishness, indigestion, as well as vomiting.
Make sure you know what and when you’re eating for your pre-workout meals, and bear in mind that what you drink is also of importance.
If you are close to your workout, grab a handful of dried nuts and fruit or an apple about an hour and a half before, or 1-2 bananas half an hour prior to hitting the gym.
Don’t be full during the workout, but supply your body with enough fuel to get closer to your fitness goals.