Are you wondering what to eat before your workout for the ultimate boost in performance?
No matter if you are male or female, a recreational lifter or into bodybuilding, everyone wants to be able to train at peak performance in the gym.
Having enough fuel to provide strength and stamina to get through the toughest workouts is a must.
But the question is “what’s the best type of pre-workout meal?”
There are a lot of supplements out there that are geared toward getting your all jacked up before going to the gym, but the focus of this article is going to be some awesome food choices that can help you get the most out of your workout.
What Do I Eat Before Training?
It really doesn’t matter what time you choose to hit the gym for your workout.
What’s extremely important is that you properly fuel up prior to pumping iron.
This will ensure you have enough energy and strength to enable you to power through even the toughest of your workouts.
Whatever type of training activity you are planning on doing for the day, you will need to have something in your system that is going to give your muscles the right kind of fuel they need.
This is why it is important, even on a low carbohydrate diet, to eat something that is going to provide glucose for fuel in your muscles.
You would not want to lift weights on an empty stomach for a couple of reasons.
First off, because you run the risk of going into a catabolic state where your muscle protein is being used for fuel and that is not good.
Second, your muscles need glucose for fuel and if you don’t have enough stored glucose in your muscles, you run the risk of muscle fatigue and overall weakness.
Another key point is that if you are going to train early in the day, make sure that you get in a good breakfast before your workout in addition.
So what do you eat? Well, there are many tips and tricks out there and it can get pretty confusing as to which are the best foods to pump up your workout…
Should I Combine Carbs and Protein?
Since you are going to be doing a weight training workout, as mentioned above you are going to need enough energy in the form of glucose in order to be able to perform at maximum capacity.
And so, you need high amount of carbohydrates that are easily digested to provide you the right amount of energy.
So to start out with, for the average training session, the best strategy for a pre-workout meal is to eat a combination of both simple and complex carbs.
This will ensure that you have enough quick energy and also a longer lasting fuel so your muscles are energized for the duration of the entire session.
You will also need some muscle sparing protein and remember to keep fats in this meal at a moderate level, as they are still a good source of fuel.
A solid protein packed meal is necessary pre-workout in order to help preserve muscle tissue and to start the reparation process after your workout has come to a halt.
How Long Before a Workout Should I Eat?
Okay, we have established that you need to get fueled up before your workout and that you should consume a combination of both simple and complex carbohydrates and a small amount of muscle sparing protein.
Now it is on to timing. How long before your workout do you eat?
Experts recommend that you should try and eat your pre-workout meal between thirty to sixty minutes before you head off to the gym to pump iron.
Any less than that and you are going to be in for an unpleasant workout.
You would not want to try lifting weights on a bloated stomach because this will ultimately lead to nausea, indigestion and just an overall sluggish workout.
You need to plan ahead with your meal timing and make sure that you get food in your system with enough time to spare.
How Big of a Meal Should I Eat?
Plan your pre-workout meal for the type of training session that you plan on having.
While you do not need a full sized meal to fuel up the average workout, you do need to have enough nutrients matched proportionately to the time and intensity of your training.
So, if you are going to train for about 30 minutes your snack will be significantly smaller than if you are going to train for 90 minutes.
Then if you are a bodybuilder and are going to train for a long and intense bodybuilding session, you are going to need more fuel for your muscles because of the amount or caloric burn that you are going to experience.
As a rule of thumb, some sports nutrition professionals recommend that men consume 30-45 grams of pre-training carbs and women should take in 20-30 grams.
Should I Use Fast Carbs or Slow Carbs?
So what kind of carbs should you use to car up for your training session?
This all depends, once again, on the duration and intensity of your workout.
If you plan on a short workout then you would probably do well with some foods that contain simple carbs such as fruit.
This will give you the ready energy that you need and will burn pretty quick.
If you intend to have a longer session for that particular day, you will obviously need more energy to last throughout the entire session.
In this case, it would be best to mix some simple carbs with the complex ones to enable you to you last the entire workout session.
Having complex carbs such as a bowl of oatmeal along with some simple carbs mixed in such as raisins will be perfect.
5 Pre-Workout Snacks for Top Performance
1. Banana & Nutbutter on Bread
Start out by taking one slice of toasted whole wheat bread and brush it with about 1 tbsp. peanut butter, almond butter or sunbutter; whichever you prefer.
Then slice up 1 small banana and place the slices on top and finish it off with a sprinkle of cinnamon.
This makes a great pre-lifting snack and a healthy one too, complete with the necessary simple and complex carbs allowing your blood sugar to stabilize while the slices of bananas will stabilize your potassium as this drops as you sweat.
Be sure to adjust the size of the meal, depending on your bodyweight and length and intensity of your workout.
2. Apple Slices and Yogurt Dip
This recipe is awesome!
Start out by prepare a medium apple, sliced up into equal sections.
Then mix peanut butter, almond butter or sunbutter, whichever you prefer, with nonfat vanilla Greek yogurt until the mixture is smooth and consistent.
Dip your apple slices on this mixture and enjoy.
For a longer lasting workout session, you may sprinkle some raisins into the nutbutter yogurt dip for additional source of energy.
3. Cereal and Raw Oats
Who doesn’t like cereal, right?
Pour yourself a small bowl of whole grain cereal (any kind will do) and add about an equal amount of uncooked oatmeal and mix thoroughly.
Top this off with a few chopped dates or raisins.
Pour unsweetened almond or coconut milk onto your cereal and oatmeal mixture and you now have a great pre-workout snack chock full of complex and simple carbs.
4. Kiwi Kale Supercharger Smoothie
Start out with a cup of unsweetened almond milk and add 2 cups of fresh kale.
Then drop in 1 sliced kiwi, a tablespoon of your favorite Nutbutter and top that off with 2 tablespoons of honey.
This is the perfect energizer shake to get your through a short and extremely intense training session.
5. Chocolate Banana Nutbutter Smoothie
Again, start off with a cup of unsweetened almond milk.
Then add in a half cup of vanilla flavored Greek yogurt.
Next, pour in one half cup of raw oats, one tablespoon of your favorite Nutbutter and one teaspoon raw organic cacao.
The final ingredient is a frozen banana.
Blend in your blending unit until smooth and consistent.
Smoothies and shakes are really an easy and convenient way to get a great pre-training carb-up and are easy to customize for your taste.
You can come up with your own delicious and nutritious smoothie recipes using any fruit that is currently in season or any that you prefer.
Then add in some Greek yogurt along with some complex carbs like raw oats or granola for a thicker and more nourishing consistency.
Finally, top it off by adding some kale, peanut butter or even protein powder for added flavor and more nutrients.
Nichole Arne is a health and fitness instructor and has been working in the industry for over 15 years. She is dedicated to helping educate men and women all over the country on living a healthier lifestyle. Nichole is also a weight loss coach and loves to take on clients who have nearly given up and lost all hope on ever achieving their weight loss goals. Seeing a client’s success is what motivates her to keep on striving for faster results while developing better diet and training systems.