Pre-Workout Snacks & Meals: What To Before A Workout
Motivation to workout can be tough to come by sometimes.
A lot of people utilize pre workout food to give them that essential energy and motivational boost before heading out to the gym. We want to fuel our body in the best possible way, but when it comes to pre workout nutrition it can feel a bit complicated.
Just like anything else in life, pre workouts can vary based on the person and activity planned; but here we will discuss some general guidelines on how to identify and use excellent sources of nutrition for that pre workout boost!
Why pre workout meals are important
The purpose of pre workout nutrition is to help provide you the crucial energy needed to smash a workout as well as help with recovery post workout.
Our body relies on the use of adenosine triphosphate, otherwise known as ATP, an organic chemical in our body that produces energy for our body to run. Carbohydrates, fats and protein, are used to help produce ATP, however all are used differently.
For example, carbohydrates are more readily available for your body to use than a fat and protein would be.
This is why carbohydrates are found to be an excellent and efficient fuel source for energizing your body. In contrast, when your body utilizes fat for energy, there are more steps involved thus making it a longer, more drawn out process.
First, fats must be broken down to fatty acids and glycerol and then must be carried through the bloodstream to the muscles. Fatty acids and glycerol are the products of broken down fat. These products then go to the muscle and are used for metabolism.
Before fatty acids can be used to generate ATP, they must go through another process to produce another byproduct to enter the Krebs cycle to produce ATP. Just a little throwback to your high school science class!
So although fat is a good source of energy, using it to produce ATP is more complicated than using carbohydrate.
Lastly, protein is not the preferred macronutrient for immediate or long term energy. The reason behind this is, protein is better used for other important functions such as building muscle and bone tissue.
This is why when we discuss post workout nutrition, protein will be emphasized to help us rebuild our muscles.
Understanding how our macronutrients are used in our body helps to choose what we need to fuel it. Due to the efficiency of carbohydrates, be sure when choosing that pre workout snack or meal it is prioritizing carbohydrates over protein and fat. Those quick carbs are going to yield the best and more efficient results for immediate and sustained energy.
How long before a workout we need to eat
Besides what to eat pre workout, we must consider when to eat. Pre workout nutrition does not necessarily mean eating a few minutes before a workout.
It can mean eating anytime from one hour or up to three hours before a workout.
If you are an early riser and get your workout done early, pre workout should be very simple and easy to digest. If you only have about an hour before a workout the best choice would be a carbohydrate with minimal protein, fat or fiber to allow for fast and easy digestion.
A fruit like grapes is a great choice to provide energy for a workout that is happening within the hour.
If you are able to give yourself more time such as two to three hours beforehand, your nutrition will look a bit different.
In this scenario, you would want to choose a mixture of carbohydrates and protein/fat with, as always, more emphasis on carbohydrates. Seeing how much time you have before a workout is the first step in deciding how you will eat.
Examples of pre workout foods:
- Peanut butter and banana sandwich
- Greek yogurt with berries
- Apple & PB or Almond Butter
- Nuts & Raisins
- Cottage Cheese & Toast
- Cheese & Crackers
Notice how each pre workout suggestion has a mixture of carbohydrates to protein/ fat but has more of an emphasis on carbohydrates.
This is essential.
Tips about macros
Including protein in your pre workout nutrition helps with muscle soreness and helps build and repair muscle tissue as you workout.
Carbohydrates before a workout is priority because you want the energy to perform your best. You may feel inclined to choose a protein bar pre workout as they are advertised as “health” food and “muscle” food.
Typically they do not prioritize carbohydrates so using a protein bar as a pre workout may not be as efficient.
It may take some trial and error to find the pre workout nutrition for you. Some people may take longer to digest food which may mean you need to eat foods easier to digest before your workout.
There are many aspects to take into consideration when choosing pre workout including timing, intensity of exercise and digestibility.
In this way we are all unique, but overall we are looking for pre workout nutrition to start one to three hours before a workout with an emphasis on carbohydrates.
For a Tone & Sculpt workout, the above suggestions are perfect!
If you plan to workout for over one to one and a half hours, you may need to incorporate more carbohydrates for energy.
Fueling your body is essential everyday not only for our basic functions but especially if you are at the gym!