Proper nutrition isn’t just a matter of filling up on carbs before you hit the gym; it’s about eating the right calories that will give you the necessary nutrients and an appropriate amount of energy. While you could always buy an overpriced pre-workout mix to prepare yourself, consider these simple tips to help you understand how to get the right calories before working out.
Timing Your Meal
A proper pre-workout meal that contains a variety of calories should be eaten two to three hours before exercising to ensure the nutrients are readily available to power your workout. However, this time frame can vary depending on your specific needs and the sensitivity of your stomach. Some people prefer to eat their pre-workout meal an hour before hitting the gym. Others like to snack throughout the day rather than consume a heavy amount of food all at once. We suggest you start by eating a well-balanced meal two hours before your session and experiment to learn what’s best for you.
Crafting a Healthy Pre-Workout Meal
When planning your healthy pre-workout meal, you need to consider the different types of calories your body needs. You shouldn’t focus on just one type of calorie, like carbohydrates, to get yourself pumped up before the gym. Rather, create a well-balanced meal to ensure that you get all the necessary nutrients.
These are the types of calories each pre-workout meal should ideally contain:
- Dietary fats: Nuts, egg yolks and avocados are slow-digesting, making them great pre-workout energizers. Not all fats are good for you, though, so avoid fatty meats and oils.
- Proteins: Eat four to eight ounces of protein-rich meat like chicken breasts before hitting the gym. This is ideal because it increases the rate of protein synthesis in the body during your workout and decreases protein breakdown after your workout, helping you build muscle.
- Carbohydrates: Carbs are great for energy, but be sure to focus on low glycemic carbohydrates like nuts and pasta. These break down and slowly enter the bloodstream, preventing a spike in insulin levels.
Pre-Workout Meal Options
While there are endless options to choose from for a pre-workout snack, here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Oatmeal: Use steel-cut oats and mix in some healthy fruits like blueberries and bananas to pump up your body. Add an organic whey protein mix to ensure you’re hitting all the components of a pre-workout snack.
- Eggs and quinoa: Eggs and quinoa are an effective combo for your physical health. Ideally, use an organic sprouted quinoa.
- Power smoothie: Treat yourself to a revitalizing smoothie made with blueberries and frozen spinach. Keep the pulp in your beverage for an added boost of fiber.
- Turkey wrap with veggies: Want something quick you can take on the go with all the pre-workout requirements? Opt for a tortilla alternative like these turmeric Paleo wraps that will have your metabolism running at full speed.
As it turns out, it does make a difference what you eat before you go to the gym. It also matters when you eat it. We suggest you enjoy a pre-workout meal that includes all the various calorie forms two hours before your exercise and adjust your timing as needed.
Wondering what foods will recharge you after your workout? Snack on any of these four healthy post-workout treats.
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