Should you eat before a work out? What foods can increase your performance? Many lifters and fitness buffs want to know the truth about pre-workout nutrition. With so much information available, it’s hard to figure out what works and what doesn’t work. A well-balanced meal can fuel your workout and provide lasting energy. Depending on your goals, it may help you build muscle, lose fat, or get stronger.
Poor eating habits can ruin your workout as well as your weight loss efforts. Whether you want to get bigger or shed fat, it’s vital to choose the right foods. What you eat before working out can make or break your progress.
There’s a lot of debate on pre-workout nutrition. Some claim having a pre-workout meal isn’t really necessary, especially for those who want to lose weight. Exercising on an empty stomach may help you burn fat more effectively. When you work out, your body uses stored carbs for energy. Once your glycogen stores are depleted, it starts burning fat. If you don’t eat before hitting the gym, no carbs will be present in your body.
This theory isn’t entirely true. Even if you work out in a fasted state, your muscles may hold glycogen from your previous meals. Unless you’re on a low carb or ketogenic diet, it will take more than one workout to deplete glycogen stores. Secondly, exercising on an empty stomach isn’t the best idea because you may lack the energy needed for an intense workout. Your overall performance will be reduced, so you might not be able to do those last reps. Additionally, many people experience fatigue, dizziness, and migraines when working out in a fasted state.
So, if you goal is to lose fat, have a low carb, high-protein meal or snack before working out. For muscle growth, eat slow digesting carbs such as those in brown rice, sweet potatoes, oatmeal, and veggies. Avoid fruit, refined sugar, and fats before exercising. Those who want to shed fat and preserve muscle can have a protein shake with glutamine, l-arginine, and BCAAs. Fat takes a long time to digest, so your pre-workout snack should contain little or no fat.
Contrary to the popular belief, it’s not recommended to eat fruit before exercising. Fruit contains simple sugars and may cause spikes in blood sugar. As a result, you’ll get a quick burst of energy followed by a crash. Eat fruit and other simple sugars after working out to replenish muscle glycogen stores.
A perfect pre-workout meal should contain protein and complex carbs. In addition to protein shakes and pre-workout formulas, you can eat a protein bar, oatmeal, whole grains, Greek yogurt, or cottage cheese with whole grain biscuits. If you haveenough time to cook, make a veggie omelet, grilled chicken with whole rice, hard-boiled eggs and toast, salad, or protein pancakes.
Eat about 90 minutes before going to the gym. If you exercise in the evening, plan your meals accordingly. Watch what you eat before and after working out.