Whether you are working towards being fit or you are trying to lose weight, exercise is one common denominator here. It places a demand on your body, and as a result, it is necessary to feed right before going for a workout.
Working on an empty stomach can be quite dangerous. Thus, to better maximize the time you spend at the gym, what you eat before beginning your exercise matters. Likewise, when you eat and the quantity is eaten matters a great deal.
Three Main Components of a Balanced Pre-workout Meal
Proteinous meals help to improve your muscle protein synthesis. It also promotes recovery and prevents muscle damage. Meats contain Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAA). Thus, having meat before a workout will help to reduce protein breakdown during your workout.
One vital thing carbohydrates do for your body before a workout is that they help it to maximize its use of glycogen. This is what energizes your body for long exercise sessions. This way they can create an anabolic effect that prompts muscle building.
3. Dietary fats
Fats are major sources of energy and so are essential in a pre-workout meal. However, they take longer to digest. So when preparing your pre-workout meal, avoid oils and fatty meats as your body may not be able to break it down before your workout begins.
What to Eat Before a Workout
Before you start exercising, you should aim to have your meal about two to three hours earlier. This is because eating a few hours before exercise stimulates digestion and helps to boost food metabolism. Here are some foods you can eat depending on how close to your exercise time you are.
1. 2-3 hours before exercise time
Go for meals that are rich in protein and carbohydrates such as green vegetables, brown rice, and chicken. This is because carbohydrates fuel you with the energy needed for your upcoming exercise. Here are some meals you can have.
- Quinoa salad and tuna
- Sweet potato and chicken breast
- Lean protein foods such as brown rice and roasted vegetables
2. 1-2 hours before exercise time
At this stage, a full meal will certainly be a bad idea as it can slow you down. Thus, choose light meals that contain carbohydrates such as bulgur wheat, brown rice, light salad, etc.
These meals will give your body the energy it needs for your workout.
- Whole-grain cereal and milk
- Fruit smoothie with chopped apples and ground oats
- Oatmeal topped with sliced almonds and banana
3. 30 mins or less before exercise time
Worried you have not eaten anything and it’s almost your exercise time? Don’t worry, you still have the option of eating foods that have healthy sugar. This is because they can digest easily and don’t contain too many calories.
- Fruits such as bananas, oranges, and apples
- Pre-workout energy bars
- Greek yogurt and fruit
What you eat before an exercise matters as it can either slug you down or boost your energy. Likewise, the time you eat these workout meals matter. Aim to eat 2-3 hours ahead of your workout, but when this doesn’t work, don’t worry. There are some other last-minute meals you can have that will help give you a great workout experience.