Before exercising, it is a good idea to know what to eat before a workout which includes a combination of carbohydrates and proteins as it can boost your performance and help your body recover afterwards. Also, don’t forget to drink enough water – staying hydrated is really important. Some people find that taking supplements such as creatine or caffeine may also be helpful.
Whether you’re an athlete or someone who enjoys staying fit, you’re probably eager to increase your performance and reach your fitness goals. An important way to do this is through proper nutrition, which can help your body function at its best and recover quickly after your workout.
Eating right before exercising isn’t just about boosting your performance; It’s also about reducing the stress on your muscles. In simple terms, this means you can get the most out of your workout and suffer less muscle damage in the process.
Knowing what to Eat Before a Workout is Important
Getting the right nutrients into your body before working out can really boost your energy and help you perform better.
Before a workout, different types of foods play specific roles. But how much of each you need may depend on your own preferences and the type of exercise you’re doing.
Your muscles use glucose from carbohydrates as their main source of energy.
The body stores glucose in a form called glycogen, primarily in the liver and muscles.
When you engage in short and intense exercise, your muscles rely primarily on these glycogen stores for energy.
However, during prolonged exercise, the extent to which your body uses carbohydrates depends on factors such as how hard you are working, the type of exercise, and your overall diet.
Keep in mind that the glycogen stores in your muscles are limited, and as they are used up, your energy and performance begin to decline.
Research consistently shows that eating carbs can help increase your glycogen stores, use them better during exercise, and improve how you burn carbohydrates for energy.
Carb loading is a well-known method where you eat a high carb diet for 1 to 7 days to replenish your glycogen stores. It can help you perform better during prolonged physical activity.
Several research studies have shown that taking some protein before a workout can help improve your athletic performance. When you eat protein alone or with carbohydrates, it can boost the muscle building and repair process.
In one small study, it was discovered that consuming 25 grams of whey protein before exercising was more effective in promoting muscle growth than consuming no protein at all.
Eating protein before a workout can have many benefits, such as:
- Increase your muscles, so you can become stronger and fit.
- Speeding up your muscle recovery after exercise.
- Increasing your strength and the amount of lean muscle in your body.
- Improving how well your muscles work during your workout.
Glycogen and fat as fuel: When you exercise intensely for short periods, your body relies on glycogen (a type of stored carbohydrate) for energy. On the other hand, when you perform prolonged, moderate to low intensity exercise, your body turns to fat as its main energy source.
Fat in your diet: Some studies have looked at how consuming too much fat in your regular diet affects athletic performance, but they focused on long-term effects rather than what you eat right before exercising.
High-fat, low-carb diet: One review suggested that following a diet that is low in carbs but high in fat may improve your body composition and how much oxygen your body can use during high-intensity interval training (HIIT). Can use, can be helpful in increasing it.
Carbohydrates are great for short, intense workouts because they increase your glycogen stores.
Fat is your preferred fuel for longer, less intense exercise.
Protein is important for building and repairing muscles.
So, choose your diet based on the type of exercise you plan to do!
The timing of your pre-workout meal is key
When it comes to eating before exercise, timing is very important. To get the best results from your workout, it is a good idea to eat a complete meal that includes carbohydrates, protein, and some fat about 2 to 3 hours before starting your exercise.
This is especially important if you plan to work out for a longer period of time. Studies have shown that for workouts under an hour, what you eat first doesn’t make a big difference (so don’t stress too much about it).
But there may be times when you are not able to eat a full meal 2 to 3 hours before workout. In those cases, it’s okay to eat a small and simple meal, but try to eat it as close to your workout as possible.
If you’re eating just 45 to 60 minutes before your workout, focus on foods that are easy to digest and contain primarily carbohydrates and a little protein. This helps prevent any stomach discomfort while exercising.
So, in short, eat a full meal 2 to 3 hours before your workout, and if that’s not possible, choose something easier if you’re eating close to your exercise time.
Some examples of Pre-Workout Meals
What you eat before exercising really depends on what type of workout you’re planning, how long you’ll be in it, and how intense it will be. But a good start is to have a mix of carbs and protein before hitting the gym.
Here are some meal ideas for different time frames before your workout:
If you have 2-3 hours before a workout:
A sandwich with whole-grain bread, some lean protein (like chicken or turkey), and a side salad.
An egg omelette with whole-grain toast topped with avocado spread and a cup of fruit.
Some lean protein, brown rice, and roasted vegetables.
If your workout is about 2 hours:
Try a protein smoothie made with milk, protein powder, a banana, and some mixed berries.
Have a bowl of whole grains with milk.
Have a cup of oatmeal with banana and chopped almonds.
Make a sandwich with natural almond butter and fruit preserves on whole-grain bread.
If your workout is scheduled to take an hour or less:
Keep it simple with Greek yogurt and some fruit.
Take a nutrition bar that contains some protein.
Simply eat a piece of fruit, such as a banana, orange, or apple.
Remember, you don’t have to eat all of these options; Just choose the one that works for you and your schedule. It’s also a good idea to experiment with different times and food combinations to see what feels best for your body.
In short, the combination of carbs and protein is a good choice for your pre-workout meal. But specific foods and portions may vary depending on your workout type, duration and intensity.”
Supplements can also be Useful Before Exercise
Definitely! Here the information is presented in a more simple, human-friendly tone:
Using Supplements for a Better Workout
Supplements are very popular in the world of sports and exercise. People use them to boost their performance, increase strength, build lean muscle, and reduce fatigue during workouts. Here are some of the top supplements you can take before your workout:
– What is it? Creatine is one of the most commonly used sports supplements.
– What it does: It is known to help you gain muscle, increase muscle size, strength and power, and reduce fatigue.
– When to take: It is effective both before and after your workout.
– Recommended Dosage: About 3-5 grams of creatine monohydrate per day works well.
– What is it? You’ve probably heard of caffeine – it’s in coffee, tea, energy drinks and some pre-workout supplements.
– What it does: Caffeine can improve your performance, increase strength and power, reduce fatigue, and even help burn fat.
– When to take: The best time is 15-60 minutes before your workout.
– Dosage: The effects are usually persistent, no matter how you take it.
3. Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs)
– What are they? BCAAs are essential amino acids such as valine, leucine, and isoleucine.
– What they do: Taking BCAAs before your workout may help reduce muscle damage and increase muscle protein synthesis.
– Recommended Dosage: Most benefits are seen at approximately 91 mg per pound or 200 mg per kilogram of body weight. For example, a person weighs 165 pounds. Approximately 15 grams of BCAAs will be required per day.
– What is it? Beta-alanine is an amino acid that increases carnosine levels in your muscles.
– What it does: It is most effective for short, intense exercises. It increases exercise capacity, muscular endurance and reduces fatigue.
– Recommended dosage: 4-6 grams daily for at least 2-4 weeks.
5. Multi-Ingredient Pre-Workout Supplement
– What are they? These are products that combine several of the supplements mentioned above.
– What they do: Mixing these ingredients can have a synergistic effect, significantly improving your performance. Common ingredients include caffeine, creatine, beta-alanine, BCAAs, arginine, and B vitamins.
– When to take: Usually 30-45 minutes before your workout.
In short, creatine, caffeine, BCAAs, and beta-alanine are often recommended before workouts. If you prefer a one-stop solution, multi-ingredient pre-workout supplements can provide a combination of these ingredients for maximum benefits.
Hydration is essential
Your body depends on water to function properly. Staying well hydrated can actually improve your performance, while being dehydrated can greatly impair your performance.
Before you start exercising, it’s a good idea to drink water and something containing sodium (such as a sports drink). This combination helps your body maintain the right balance of fluids, and it can prevent you from losing too much fluid.
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) suggests that you should start drinking beverages slowly at least 4 hours before exercising. If you haven’t gone to the bathroom to pee or if your pee looks really dark and concentrated, that’s a sign you should drink a little more about 2 hours before you start your workout.
Additionally, they recommend avoiding eating or drinking anything that contains sodium. This can help your body retain the fluids you drink.
In short, water is vital to your performance when you’re active. So, remember to drink a good mix of water and sodium-rich drinks before running to keep your body functioning at its best and to avoid losing too much fluid.
If you want to get the most out of your workout and help your body recover, it’s essential to give it the right kind of nutrition before you hit the gym.
Carbohydrates are like your body’s rocket fuel for short, intense exercises. They help you efficiently use glycogen, which is a quick source of energy. Fat, on the other hand, is like a long-lasting battery that keeps you active during extended workouts.
It’s also a good idea to eat some protein. It helps your muscles grow and repair, keeps them from getting too injured during your workout, and speeds up your recovery.
Don’t forget about staying hydrated! Drinking enough water is a huge bonus to your performance.
Now, when should you eat before a workout? Well, you can eat a proper meal anywhere from 3 hours to 30 minutes before starting. But if you’re headed to the gym in less than an hour, follow some easy steps for your belly to avoid feeling uncomfortable.
Finally, there are many supplements that can boost your performance and help you bounce back after a workout.
In the end, these simple eating habits can really make a difference in how well you perform and how quickly you can recover. So, fuel your body right, and it will thank you!
About the Author
LifeFitness.com’s authors consist of accredited coaches, doctors, dietitians and athletes across the world.