When to eat before a workout
Incorporating the proper nutrition in your diet will help you more effectively achieve your fitness goals. There is so much information thrown our way about what to eat as well as what to stay away from. The noise can get distracting, especially when the best advice is simply to listen to your body. So when it comes to fueling your body for a workout there is a lot of trial and error, but we can help guide you to the right foods and supplements that have worked for many people and have been scientifically proven to enhance workouts, energy and fat burning.
Fasted vs. Fueled Exercise
A common trend among fitness gurus is fasted workouts, whether that be working out when you wake up or going a long period of time after eating during the day before working out. Let’s dive into the research behind this phenomenon. When you eat before a workout your blood sugar levels are higher, giving your body food to burn; your body will feel more energized because you have calories (literal energy) fueling your body. When fasted, your body’s energy source comes from your natural fat reserves. A study by the National Library of Medicine confirmed that fat burning is higher when working out fasted, it is your body’s natural way of functioning when there are no fuel resources.
For some people fasted exercise could be the solution to a problem, if you are having a hard time dropping weight, incorporating fasted workouts or even fasted cardio a couple times a week could help get rid of those pesky pounds. But if you are in a place where your workouts are driven by things other than fat loss, like having more energy and staying healthy, it may be in your best interest to fuel your body before activity. So let’s jump into some foods that are great for a pre-workout meal.
What foods should you eat?
Not all foods are created equal, so the first tip when deciding what foods to eat pre-workout is to think of wholesome natural foods that will fuel your body most effectively. Processed foods are quick energy, that do not provide valuable nutrients, so if possible avoid, high sugar, processed food.
Some of the best foods to eat before a workout are fruits, vegetables and whole grain sources of carbs, like rice, quinoa or oats. Think a cup of oatmeal with strawberries or bananas on top, with cinnamon and honey or a rice cake (or two) with avocado and chili flakes. Depending on the time of day you workout the amount of pre-workout calories you consume can vary. If you workout in the morning then your breakfast can serve as your high energy workout meal and should be more caloric as you are breaking your nightly fast. If you prefer an afternoon or evening workout, you can have a snack in the afternoon that is less caloric but will give you enough energy to sustain your full workout before eating dinner.
Another thing to consider is not overconsuming calories that can cause you to overeat and not have the fat burning effects from the workout that you desire. When thinking about the meal you
will eat before you workout make sure you will be somewhat hungry and that it fits into your caloric intake for the day.
Pre-workout energy drinks
When it comes to needing an extra boost of energy before working out many people look to caffeinated drinks and supplements. A good cup of coffee will and could give you the high you need to perform effectively, if that is what you prefer. But a new range of powders called pre-workout have entered the market and give you more than energy, some are meant to help you lift more while others specifically energize your muscles by making them tingle. There are many chemicals that go into pre-workout powders, so it is suggested to do your research before ingesting any supplement. Also, be aware that supplement companies are not regulated by the FDA, so it is in your own interest to do research.
We all know the more caffeine in your system the better you feel, and the better your workouts will be. So give a variety of pre workout drinks a try to best see what fits with your routine.
One more thing to think about is when you should ingest your pre-workout meal and drinks. Studies show that if you are eating a full meal, two to three hours before working out is the best time to eat, and if you are simply snacking on a lower calorie meal then an hour before is good enough. Similar with pre-workout drinks, 45 minutes to an hour is the best time to drink caffeine to allow it to enter your bloodstream and provide the energy boosting benefits.
Make sure you test out a variety of meals and options to see what makes you feel most energized and excited to workout.