So, you've planned your diary, organised childcare, and sorted a gym buddy and now you're ready to hit that workout! But have you pre-planned your food?
Turning up for your workout on empty is like expecting your car to drive 200 miles without any diesel. The correct nutrition can really help to energise you and give you the best chance of performing at your best when you get to that class. But the question is, what should you eat and when is the optimum time to eat it?
Well, timing depends on when you prefer to exercise. But as a general rule, most people are best eating a nourishing balanced meal approximately 2 hours before starting their workout. If you're an early to rise early to gym kind of person then this might be tricky, but hitting the gym on empty may cause your body to start breaking down amino acids from your muscle mass to convert these to glucose for energy. And so, for early morning workouts, try eating one of the snacks on the list below beforehand to energise you without you feeling too full.
The general rule is to focus on the following three food groups around your training times.
It's generally best to try and avoid too many fats, yes even healthy ones, before you workout. This is because although high in energy, fats are slow digesting and so instead of making you energetic, they might make you feel sluggish and heavy.
One of the best pre workout food groups. Consuming a good source of protein before a workout can give your body a boost of amino acids, that may help to prevent the breakdown of muscle and also give good muscle recovery post exercising.
Two types of carbs exist, the simple high GI carbohydrates and the complex, low GI. But which is best pre-workout?
This will depend on your goal and the time of your pre-workout meal. Simple carbohydrates are great for 30 minutes to an hour before a workout as they provide the body with fast acting glucose to be used as fuel. However complex carbs also play a role within your energy metabolism. As by consuming low GI carbs around 2-3 hours before your workout, can give your body a good slow releasing source of energy. Which might help contribute towards you being able to work out for longer and be less likely to crash and burn mid or post training session.
If your workout is planned later in the day and you've already eaten a main meal, then one of the following snacks within 1 hour of training should be sufficient to help fuel you and see you perform at your best.
A great source of natural sugars, simple carbohydrates and potassium. Eating a banana pre-workout is the perfect way to boost your glycogen stores and increase blood sugar levels.
Greek Yoghurt & Dried Fruit
Dried fruit tends to be very high in sugar and calories, however this food is great to be consumed in its portion controlled measures as a pre-workout to give a quick source of simple sugar.
Possibly the perfect pre-workout breakfast you can get. Oats are a complex carb and so consuming them around 1 hour before a workout you'll be able to satisfy hunger throughout your training and get a great source of slow releasing energy. You could even try adding a scoop of protein powder to your porridge and then you'll have a great source of both protein and complex carbs to help boost muscle protecting amino acids.
Fruit provides us with an abundance of nutrients that are beneficial to your health, however, they can be very high in sugars including fructose which is created during the blending phase of smoothie making. However, consuming this 1 hour pre-workout can provide a great fast acting glucose energy source.
Lastly but not least, if you're on the go and finding time to make a snack is tricky, a quick protein shake can solve all your pre-workout energy levels. Packed full of high protein, but low carbs, a protein shake is suitable for any time of the day.
And always try to eat your next meal or snack within two hours of the post workout window otherwise it could affect your body's recovery.
Written by Kate Swinson - Founder of MEvME
For more information on foods to fuel your workout, or to read more on the nutritional benefits of certain foods, please click here...