Most people skip the food before going on a workout because they think they’re going to the gym or doing home routines to shed off that extra weight or fat, to burn all the calories and eating before a workout does not just seem right with all of these! In truth, you are not doing yourself a big favor by exercising on an empty stomach. Although previous studies in 2016 have pointed out that there is significant weight loss in a fasted state before a workout, it does not necessarily mean that this is ideal.
When you do an activity such as exercising which spends so much energy, you need a source of that energy otherwise you would be burning valuable energy resources and will leave you tired before you even get to exercise. Exercising on an empty stomach may cause your body to use up protein as fuel which is used to build and repair muscles after an exercise. Another considerable option for the body is to use your fat reserves for energy and the body may start to store more fats to keep up with your activities.
Get your nutrition right!
Eating before a workout does not mean you need to gobble up a burger or two or a heavy meal to get that energy you need. That’s not good just as much as an empty stomach. In order to get that full glow you want after exercising, a healthy pre-workout diet is needed. After all, good nutrition helps the body to maximize performance, minimize muscle damage, and recover faster.
So first, let’s get some food science explained. What essential nutrients should be packed in your diet?
First is carbohydrates. Science taught us that the body uses glucose from carbohydrates you take into fuel and glycogen is the way the body processes and stores glucose. Short and high intensity exercises mostly depend on glycogen stores of the body. On the other hand, longer exercises are a bit more complicated and utilization and depletion of carbohydrates depend on the intensity, type of training, and overall diet.
Second is protein. Protein is everything for the muscle which helps increase muscle protein synthesis, muscle growth, recovery, and performance. It also builds increased strength and lean body mass.
Third is the fat – which people usually think is bad but is actually part of a healthy regimen! Fat, along with fiber, slows down digestion and is a good source of energy for moderate to long periods of exercises.
A good nutrition mix for your pre-workout diet is a moderate amount of protein, a bit of the healthy fats, and of course a high amount of the good carbohydrates!
Top Items on the Shelf
1.Water – though this is not up on most lists, it’s very important to keep yourself hydrated before working out and it also goes during and post workout as well.
2. Bread – is a staple in people’s diets and is a number one on the calorie list but whole grain bread is a sound weight loss diet
3. Bananas – or what workout buffs and enthusiasts call the power bar of mother nature. It contains potassium, an electrolyte lost through sweat during exercise and it helps to get a good stock of it to help you out of cramps.
4. Raspberries and Blueberries – these fruits are antioxidants. When you exercise, the body increases sensitivity to insulin by producing reactive oxygen species called free radicals. According to studies, free radicals are harmful to the body (although it should be noted that some studies point otherwise and is still a subject of contention) antioxidants fight against these.
5. Avocado – most fruits give more of the carbohydrates but avocados also give you a healthy fat fix need for your diet
6. Nuts – have high fat content and also have protein and calories helpful for gaining muscle mass
7. Oats – are rich in fiber and processes gradual breakdown of carbohydrates which provides sustained energy recommended for long periods of training.
8. Yogurt – is a common part of any workout diet as it provides protein and carbohydrates
9. Chicken – meat is a source of protein and dark meat in general has more good fat so this is a good inclusion in your diet especially for heavy workouts
10. Egg – the ever classic protein source we all need
11. Smoothie – helps as additional fluid intake aside from water. Some opt for protein ones but fruit smoothies are also good and nutritious as well!
Mix and Match
Pre-workout diets just like exercise routines are not a one size fits all so take what goes best for you. It’s all about preferences and it’s good to mix and match the items on your shelf to get yourself a good-to-go meal before you sweat it all up!
1. Dried fruits – fruits are delectable and nutritious in any form even when dried! These are good simple carbohydrate fixes especially when you’re on the go.
2. Yogurt and Fruit – protein-filled plus carbohydrates. For yogurts, it’s recommended to go plain Greek which has double the protein and less carbs
3. Plain greek yogurt with berries and granola – granola with nuts, seeds, and wholesome carbs like oats, amaranth, quinoa, millet. Carb sources sweetened with coconut oil, dried fig and yogurt are good to keep sugar level to medium (it’s better to go for plain flavors rather than fruit ones)
4. Whole grain toast, peanut or almond butter, and banana slices – whole grain toast (again) is good for your weight loss needs partnered with mother nature’s power bar, and a healthy fat fix supplied by peanut/almond butter
5. Banana with peanut butter and honey or apple with almond butter and raisins- a good mix of all the essential nutrients with a bonus good flavor to motivate you on your workout!
6. Scrambled eggs, veggies, and avocado – the whole egg provides you high quality protein with eight essential amino acids with the yolk. Avocado on the other hand gives a healthy fat fix.
7. Chicken thighs or breast (it’s up to you!), rice, steamed veggies – classic mix of protein, carbohydrates, and fiber! You may also try another variant like grilled chicken, broccoli, and sweet potato combo.
It’s also important to take note of the timing of your meals before workout. Ideally, these should be taken 2-3 hours before your exercise (especially the meat meals) but if you do not have enough time, fix yourself a quick meal in smaller portions so that they are digested well before you go and exercise.
Now, get yourself a good fix of your pre-workout diet.