Why is it important to load up before you work out?
Preparing for a day’s workout is not about having enough sleep and rest the night before, you need to prepare by eating the right food too. Food is your body’s fuel that will keep you going and through a whole routine. This is why it is important to load up with the right food that will give you the nutrients needed to boost your energy for workout.
Dietitians and nutritionists suggest eating at least an hour before you exercise. Eating the right meals in the right amounts will give you the following benefits:
- More energized during workouts
Our bodies function like car, it needs fuel to be able to move get going. Filling up your glycogen stores (body’s energy tank) before a workout can help improve your energy levels significantly during a workout. If you don’t eat before you workout, your glycogen stores will not be able to release enough energy to keep you going—even after you work out. You will end up feeling tired and dehydrated the entire day.
- Protect Your Hard Earned Muscle
If you are lifting weights to build more muscle mass, loading up on carbohydrates is essential. “The body is in a catabolic environment, which can break down muscle tissue to use it as energy,” says Marc Ferry, founder of Built Lean. “A solid pre-workout meal can prevent muscle breakdown and improve energy repair and recovery,” he added.
- Increased Muscle Growth
Some people don’t want to eat loads if they are trying to shed off some pounds, but in reality, in order to reduce fat, our body should build more muscle.
“Eating protein during your workout meal can help slowly release amino acids into your blood stream, which can promote protein synthesis. If you are breaking down muscle and eating enough calories, muscle growth can be improved,” Ferry said.
When is the right time to eat pre-workout meals?
To know the right time to consume your pre workout meals, it is important to understand the process of how food is digested and how long digestion takes place.
Each classification of food varies the duration of the digestion process. In general, dietary fat takes around 6-8 hours to digest, protein 3-4 hours, and carbs 2-3 hours—depending on the source and what kind. But, you don’t need to wait almost half a day to start working out!
The space of time between eating and working out depends on each person. Some can eat a full meal and immediately start working out after an hour, while some who grabbed some snacks and should wait 2-3 hours before proceeding. A few have stomachs so sensitive that they need to rest for 3-4 hours before moving. You should experiment with the timing to suit your individual needs. To be safe, try eating 30 minutes to 3 hours prior to exercising and work from there.
What is the ideal pre-work out meal/snack?
You can mix and match healthy food every time you eat before you work out, as long as the needed nutritional content is satisfied. Here’s a breakdown of what your pre-workout meal should have in order to be fully fueled to do some work out:
Dietary Fat – Because fat takes the longest to digest, the pre-workout meal should be relatively low in fat, so stay away from fatty meats and oils.
Protein – consuming a little bit (4-8 ounces) of protein from meat or from daily is healthy, especially before working out. “Protein helps those muscles heal and grow stronger, which ultimately is the goal,” says Jessica Jones, MS, RD.
Carbohydrates- Take note: Carbs= energy. When we consumer carbs, they break down into glucose that is eventually converted into energy. Before a workout, it’s good to eat simple carbohydrates, because they are digested fast and provide quick energy.
Low Glycemic (slowly releases into blood stream) carbohydrates should help fill up glycogen stores to help you power through a tough workout and also create a more anabolic effect.
Here are some sample pre-work out snacks and smoothies recipes, as recommended and suggested by nutritionists and dietitians:
For snacks, go for the trusty combination of complex carbs and fruits.
Try these yummy pairings:
- Whole wheat toast + Banana + Cinnamon
- Greek yogurt + trail mix (choose a mix that is mostly nut and dried fruit based with as little fillers as possible
- Apple wedges + Almond butter
- Pistachios + Blueberries
Blend the following for a healthy and energy-boosting smoothie:
- 1 cup of fruit and 2 cups of vegetables
- your favorite sliced fruit + a cup of Greek yogurt and some granola
- banana + walnut + honey + skim milk + vanilla essence
- Kiwi + kale
Cook up some quick meals:
- Oatmeal with a tablespoon of peanut butter and ½ cup of fruit
- 4-ounces of baked salmon, ¾ cup of brown rice, with 1 cup of roasted veggies
- Egg white omelets
TIPS AND REMINDERS
- Mix it up! There are a lot of recipes to try online. Don’t get yourself bored with the same pre-workout meals everyday.
- Drink up! Remember that the best fuel to the body is H2O!
- Low in fat—ideally, your pre-workout should have no more than 15g of fat.
- Avoid fiber when it comes to pre-workout meals
- Go light! If you have a sensitive stomach, eat light pre-workout meals. If possible, load up on smoothies and snacks instead of a full meal.
- Eat carbs moderately! Keep it to a balance. When you eat only a little amount, you will tire easily. If you eat a lot, you will end up full, sleepy and lazy to workout, which is the opposite of what we want to achieve.