When we workout, we are constantly pushing ourselves to run faster, jumper higher, and lift heavier. However, in today’s society, we all have less free time. It is no wonder the majority of the fitness community wants to make the most out of their workouts.
Exercise has become a science and what you fuel your body with will affect your performance in the gym. So you may be asking yourself then what are the best pre-workout foods?
Luckily for you, we have created a list of our favourite pre-workout foods and how you should be consuming them below! These foods will be sure to have you crushing your next workout.
Breaking Down the Foods
To fully understand how you should be fuelling your body before a workout you must first know how food is broken up. Each nutrient in food plays a specific role in your body during exercise.
Due to this factor, some foods will be better for different individuals and various workouts. However, the general 3 you should be looking for are Carbs, Proteins, and Fats.
When you consume carbohydrates, or “carbs”, your body breaks them down into sugars called glucose. Your body will then store this glucose in the muscles of your body for later.
Exercise Scientists have found that this glucose storage is the main source of energy for your muscles when you are working out.
When your body’s glycogen levels are depleted, your muscle output and intensity are hindered.
Because of this factor, athletes often use a technique called carb loading. To do this you would increase the number of carbs you’re eating before a workout so your glycogen levels are increased.
Protein is the main building block of muscles. Protein synthesis is a natural process in which protein is produced to repair muscle damaged due to intensive exercise and aid in the recovery of process.
This is why protein consumption is another factor that can affect your workout abilities. By eating more protein, muscles can repair themselves better throughout the workout.
Studies have shown that eating protein and carbs together before a workout can intensify muscle protein synthesis.
Although the glycogen in carbs is used for muscle energy, this is often short-lived and runs out fairly quickly. On the other hand, fats can be a great pre-workout food to sustain energy during longer, moderate, or lower intensity workouts.
This type of pre-workout food would be better for endurance athletes. For example, this study found that when long-distance runners increase their fat intakes by 40% their speeds were faster and more consistent.
5 Best Foods to Eat Before a Workout
1. Chicken and Rice
For people who often workout after dinner or later at night, a meal like chicken and rice is perfect for you.
And no, it is not a coincidence this is the “classic” bodybuilder meal. This meal is well balanced because the rice is the perfect source of carbs and fibre before a workout. Additionally, the chicken is a great source of lean meat and protein.
This meal will give you quick sugars to burn, protein to help with recovery, and fats for long-lasting energy to get you through a tough workout
For people that workout early in the day, it can be tough for them to eat a large meal with carbs right when they wake up. Heck, most people don’t even eat breakfast in today’s day.
The grains in oatmeal are slow-burning and great if you’re trying to fill an empty stomach efficiently. This pre-workout food should keep your body nourished and energized throughout the entire workout.
If you’ve been in the workout game for a while then you should be no stranger to supplements. Depending on fitness goals, people take a variety of supplements from BCAA’s to Pre Workout.
For obvious reasons pre-workout supplements have the best chance of getting you amped up for a workout. Ingredients like caffeine, citrulline malate, and creatine can take your workouts to the next level.
Although, it should be mentioned that these aren’t great full meals and are often taken in tandem with other food on the list.
If you are serious about taking the next step in fitness you can read this list of the top pre workout thermogenic on the market.
4. Peanut Butter Sandwich or Bagel
If you are looking to grab something quick and easy before a workout then a peanut butter sandwich might be just what you’re looking for. This is the perfect pre-workout food for people on the go!
However, it’s important that the bread is whole wheat. This will give you the proper type of carbs to give your muscles energy during the workout.
The peanut butter on the bagel then acts as a good type of fat and protein to help reduce muscle fatigue and protein breakdown.
As an added pro tip, you can also add banana and honey on top. This will add natural sugars to your body to help increase blood sugar and in turn energy. Not to mention this will severely help with the taste.
5. Energy Bars
This last one is for people who really don’t have time to waste. Protein bars got their name for a reason and are packed with carbs, protein, and sugars that your body craves before a workout.
It is important to pick a protein bar that has high amounts of carbs and fats. Usually, nutritionists say look for a bar with at least 20g of protein.
Although this isn’t the best pre workout food on the list, it gets the job done.
When to be Eating Pre-Workout Food
Now that you know what to eat, when should you be eating this food?
Obviously, the type of food you are eating will change when you should be consuming them. Scientists have found that carbs should be consumed much earlier than pre-workout supplements.
A good rule of thumb is if you are eating a full meal with carbs and protein then you should be consuming the meal around 2 hours prior to your workout.
This will give you enough time to digest the food and for your body to turn the carbs into glucose.
If you are eating smaller snacks like protein bars or oatmeal it is suggested you consume them closer to an hour before. This will keep you from becoming hungry near the end of your meal.
Wrapping Things Up
Although the question of pre workout food may be a complicated one, I hope this article has helped you find some clarity.
The best thing you could do is try different combinations of the recommended food to see what works for you!
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Josh Lafond is the owner and operator of healthygymhabits. After receiving his PT certification in 2014 he became a personal trainer at his local gym. Since then Josh has been bettering his understanding of fitness to help others achieve their health goals online and in person.