Before working out, it is always vitally important to eat a good pre-workout meal. Your body needs the proper fuel to function properly. Exercise is hard work for the body, and without the fuel it needs, your muscles will not be able to achieve peak performance.
When exercising, the body needs some blood sugar, and if it is not readily available, muscle tissue could be burned for fuel instead. While some people believe that not eating before a workout forces the body to burn fat, this is a myth.
Quality Over Quantity
Is it necessary to eat a large meal before working out? No, as it is not the size of the meal, but instead, the quality of the food you eat. A pre-workout meal should be rich in protein and healthy carbohydrates, to provide the body with the fuel it needs.
Eating a pre-workout meal about forty-five minutes before working out will provide the body with the fuel necessary for these exercises. This is a good timeframe for eating because eating too shortly before working out could cause cramps and discomfort.
Carbs as Fuel
The body needs carbohydrates before working out for a reason – it will use carbs for energy. Carbohydrates are the body’s preferred source of fuel. As you exercise, the body turns carbohydrates into energy, and if there is an adequate supply of energy, it will not need to look for fuel from other sources.
Unfortunately, many men and women have the mindset that consuming carbohydrates translates automatically into fat storage. While this may be true when too many carbohydrates are consumed, eating the right amount of carbs before working out will translate into them being burned for fuel, not stored.
Protein to Protect Muscle Tissue
But, why do you need protein? The need for protein is surprising to many, as the common assumption is that the body burns fat during physical exertion. This is not the case. The body will first turn to available carbohydrate fuel. When that runs out, it resorts to amino acids.
If an adequate supply of amino acids is not in the blood supply, the body resorts to drawing energy from its muscle tissue. Protecting your hard-earned muscle tissue is one of the most important reasons why you need protein. Consuming some protein before working out helps to ensure this does not happen.
Planning a Pre-Workout Meal
Planning your pre-workout meal does not need to be a big deal. In fact, it is better to keep things nice and easy. If you work out in the morning, your pre-workout meal may essentially be your breakfast.
Toast made from wholegrain bread, combined with some yoghurt and fruit is a delicious way to start your day and will provide your body with ample carbohydrates and protein. Whole wheat toast with cinnamon and banana, paired with almond butter or yoghurt would also be a good choice.
If you always find yourself in a rush before heading out the door to work out, you might be tempted to skip your pre-workout meal. Since this is never a good idea, the better approach is to plan so that you always have something quick and easy to grab. A large batch of oats is easy to make in advance so that you always have a container ready to go for a quick meal.
Pre-Workout Meal Ideas
Steel cut oats work well for this purpose. Make a large batch, then stir in some protein-rich almond butter, nuts, raisins, and dried cranberries. The addition of a handful of sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds will make it an even more nutritious meal.
Then, simply portion out into individual containers, and store in the refrigerator. When you need a quick meal, simply grab a tray and go – it is great either hot or cold. Keeping some containers of Greek yoghurt with trail mix on hand is another good way to make sure you will always have a quick, easy pre-workout meal handy.
Protein-rich smoothies are also an excellent choice for a pre-workout meal. It is swift and easy to whirl some milk with almond butter, banana, some whey powder and perhaps a few berries.
The portability of smoothies is one of the reasons they are so popular. Once mixed up, you can simply pour them into a travel cup, and take them on the road with you. Another advantage of smoothies is the fact that the addition of a scoop of protein powder means that your body will have quick access to protein.
This can be substantial if you forgot to eat your pre-workout meal earlier, but still, want to make sure your body is adequately fueled for exercise.
Post Workout Meals
It is also important to feed the body correctly after working out. After exercising, a meal that contains protein will help kickstart your muscles’ recovery, repair and growth. A strenuous workout can tap the body’s fuel reserves, and your blood sugar may be low. It is important to replenish glycogen, so eating some carbs is also recommended.
It is not necessary to eat a huge meal after working out. In fact, you might not even feel that hungry after your workout, at least not until you have had a chance to rest.
A simple, quick post workout meal might consist of almond butter and apple wedges. This quick, simple snack is refreshing and is easy to fix in advance so that you can take it with you when you go to work out.
Just slice up a couple of apples, dip them lemon juice to prevent them from turning brown, and scoop a spoonful or two of almond butter into a small container. After working out, you will have a simple and efficient snack ready to go, with barely any effort.
Smoothies are also an excellent choice for post-workout consumption. A good choice is a smoothie that includes bananas and almond butter. A scoop of whey protein is also quite useful in smoothies, as it provides the body with readily available protein.
As you can see, it is of vital importance to properly fuel the body, if you want to get the most out of your workout sessions. It does not take a lot of time, effort or money, but the results are worth their weight in gold.