We’ve all been there a time or two. Regretting that pizza or burger we ate just a little to close to the time we decided to hit the gym. Feeling sluggish and slow as we push ourselves through the remainder of our workout swearing we will never do it again. It’s not rocket science that greasy and high fat foods are frowned upon prior to a gym session, but what is exactly the best food to eat before a workout?
Similar to filling a car with gas, your body needs fuel to properly function. But, not just any fuel. The food you choose to put into your body pre-workout can determine the length, intensity and effectiveness of your next workout. Before your next sweat session, consider these nutritional guidelines I have compiled from ACE certified fitness professionals.
All day long: Stay Hydrated. It’s always a good idea to be drinking plenty of water but even more so when you will be working out. Exercising causes most people to sweat, a natural reaction of the body cooling itself. While sweating is a healthy part of any workout, it can also lead to dehydration from excessive fluid loss. Be sure to help prepare your body ahead of time by sipping on water all day long, as well as during your workout.
Two to three Hours pre-workout: having a meal two to three hours prior to your workout is a good idea to help give your body the energy it needs to push through your entire session. It’s recommended that your meal consists of a mix of carbs, proteins and fats within the 300-400 calorie range. While pizza or a burger could easily fall into those guidelines, its important to remember this meal should consist of complex carbs, healthy fats and lean proteins. Some popular examples are a chicken breast with veggies, hummus and pretzels or a fruit and nut bar with yogurt. It’s recommended that you stay away from gassy foods such as beans and broccoli as they can cause some intestinal discomfort.
One to two hours pre-workout: As you get closer to your workout, carbs should become the focus of your snack with a small portion of protein. Carbohydrates help increase glucose availability near the end of the workout to keep you working longer. Snacks should stay around the 200-calorie mark and paired with protein will help you feel satisfied and fueled. Some snack examples are cereal with milk, trail mix and banana with nut butter.
15 to 30 minutes pre-workout: If you only have a short amount of time to grab some fuel pre-workout, it’s important to choose easy to digest carbs. Having a snack with about 25 grams of carbs will give you just the right amount of energy your body quickly needs. Examples include a handful of raisins, a few saltine crackers or a small serving of applesauce.
While all these nutritional tips from experts are helpful, it’s important to remember that they are simply guidelines. Everyone’s body is different and you have to do some experimenting to find what foods work best for you and your workout needs. Taking the time to fuel properly can be the difference between an average workout and a great workout. Let the food you choose to consume help fuel your body from the inside to create a killer workout your body will thank you for!
If you have a favorite pre-workout meal or snack, comment below to share with others!
~Fall in love with taking care of yourself. Mind. Body. Spirit.~