The Pre-Workout meal can either set you up for energy, power and endurance…or make you poop out right after the warm up. Nutrient timing is a crucial part of the training equation that a lot of “would be athletes” overlook. Between proper hydration, and the right combo of food and timing, you can completely energize your body. An energized body is ready to take on strength, power and endurance training. Pre and post workout nutrition is a complex science that has been studied by numerous exercise physiologists for years. The bottom line is this. You won’t get stronger and won’t last if you don’t eat before a training session. It is as simple as gas in the tank. You wouldn’t go on a road trip on “E” right?
Unfortunately at one time or another, one of my girls shows up for training on an empty stomach. They think they are going to be fine, until they start to sweat a bit too much in the warm up, feel fatigue or weakness withing 30 minutes, and finally have to stop. Some of them say that since they are there to lose weight, they want a “calorie deficit” after the workout. It only takes one time of feeling completely horrible, for them to realize you can’t work out on empty. There are a few that might be able to make it through, however, you are doing your body a horrible disservice. You are breaking it down when you are working out. The fuel needs to be there to start. Your next workout is only as good as your recovery, so pre and post workout meals and shakes are imperative. If you don’t want a shake as a pre-workout meal, then eat a good source of carbohydrates with a bit of protein and fat.
If you are doing a strength training session involving weights, you should have a meal about 1- 1 1/2 hours before training. You should have approximately 60% carbs, 25% Protein and 15% fat. Carbs are the bodies preferred source of energy in this type of workout. If you eat too close to the workout, the body will be using energy to digest your food.
Another problem that people face is dehydration. There has been data that shows that even a 2% loss of fluids can alter performance by up to 15%! That could mean not crossing the finish line, or not finishing the last set. Stay hydrated with pure water. If you are working out in extreme weather conditions as in cold or high levels of humidity, drink water with electrolytes or a sports drink. If you are working out for more than an hour, hydrate even more, or use sport hydration gels and mixes.
Many people ask…”what is a good carb to eat before I workout?”. Keep it simple. A bowl of Kashi Cereal, a bagel with a tablespoon of almond butter, a banana and a piece of toast. Nothing too fatty, and nothing to elaborate. Not too much fiber, and a little bit of protein. Protein is for rebuilding and repairing muscles at every other time of the day. If you are an endurance athlete, you should be following a higher calorie, higher carb diet all of the time, not just right before a workout.
To get the best out of your body, be mindful of what you put into it. Eat a nutrient dense diet. Eat for what you will be doing next, and stay hydrated.
In health and strength,