There's a fitness myth that says you can burn more fat if you work out on an empty stomach. Ask any fitness enthusiast or athlete and they will tell you that this is not true.
Your body is like a finely tuned car; it needs fuel to run. Without proper nutrition, your body can't perform optimally. Good nutrition will help maximize your performance, promote muscle growth and recovery, and improve body composition and athletic potential.
However, you just can't have any meal before a workout. Your pre-workout meal should be based on the type, intensity, and duration of your workout. Some exercises burn energy quickly, and some need a slow and constant supply of fuel.
What to eat before your workout
Providing your body with the right nutrients before a workout ensures that you will have enough strength and energy to perform at optimum levels. A good pre-workout meal should contain:
Your body’s main energy source is glucose, which it gets from high-carb foods. Carbs help your body maximize its ability to use glycogen for short- and high-intensity workouts. Glycogen is a glucose that is stored when it is not used by your body. During a workout, your body needs energy, and this is when your glycogen storages kick in to provide your body with a steady source of fuel.
Consuming a moderate amount of protein before your workout can help improve muscle protein synthesis and athletic performance. A pre-workout meal with at least 30 grams of protein contains all the amino acids your body needs to prevent your muscles from breaking down during exercise.
While we use carbs for short- and high-intensity workouts, fats are perfect for workouts that are longer or low to moderate in intensity. It should be noted that you should keep your pre-workout intake of fat under 5 grams. This is because consuming too much fat before your workout can slow down your body's ability to digest protein.
Timing your pre-workout meal
When you eat your pre-workout meal is just as important as what your pre-workout meal is. For maximum results, consume a complete pre-workout meal at least two to three hours before exercise. However, there will be instances when you won't be able to eat your pre-workout meal exactly on time. Fret not — you can still have a pre-workout meal, but it should be simpler and easier to digest.
Examples of pre-workout meals
To give you a general idea of what to eat before your workout, here are some helpful examples:
Two to three hours before your workout
- A tuna sandwich on whole-grain bread and a side of salad
- Whole-grain toast with avocado spread, scrambled eggs, and one cup of fruit
- Any lean protein with roasted vegetables and a moderate serving of brown rice
Two hours before your workout
- A protein smoothie with mixed berries
- A cup of whole-grain oats mixed with sliced almonds or bananas
- Fruit preserve sandwich with natural almond butter on whole-grain bread
An hour or less before your workout
- Unpasteurized Greek yogurt with fruits
- A nutrition bar with a balanced amount of protein and carbohydrates
- A piece of your fruit like apple, orange, or banana
The ideal workout starts with a proper pre-workout meal. It sets the stage for effective muscle recovery and growth. You should take the pre-workout meal as seriously as you would the actual workout.
If you're wondering which pre-workout foods to eat, you can find chef-driven, healthy meals for sale at the front desks of our Facet Seven Heights and EaDo branches. Call us today to learn more.