Pre workout Nutrition
Like some of you, my favourite time to work out is in the morning. After going without food for at least eight hours prior to exercising, pre-workout nutrition is a major concern. Whether I plan a challenging workout or an easier one, I always strive to eat light before exercising in the morning. You’ll find that you’re more energetic and can perform exercises better if you eat meals that are low in fat and contain moderate amounts of protein and carbohydrates.
Since your muscles gain energy from stored glycogen, a small meal or snack that contains simple carbohydrates can replenish your energy. Simple carbohydrates from foods such as fresh fruit, provide quick energy to your muscles. This is ideal when you want to work out within 30 minutes to 45 minutes after you eat. If you plan to work out a couple of hours after eating, your meal should include more complex carbohydrates. These carbs offer sustained energy because they are digested more slowly than simple carbs.
While staying energised and alert are some of the main benefits of eating a healthy pre-workout meal, you’ll also want to nourish and protect the lean muscle mass that you’ve worked so hard to develop. When you deplete your glycogen stores, your body starts to use some of its protein as a substitute. This can result in muscle loss. To rebuild muscle tissue, I try to incorporate lean, high-quality protein into my pre-workout meals.
My go-to meal for quick energy 30 minutes before working out is a green smoothie that is naturally sweetened with banana. I use leafy greens with mild flavours such as spinach or chard and combine them with vegetables that are known to contain moderate amounts of plant-based protein such as broccoli or cauliflower. Broccoli contains about 2.6 grams of protein per cup, and cauliflower has an estimated 2.1 grams of protein per cup. Fresh broccoli has a distinctive flavour that usually doesn’t taste good in sweet smoothies. If you use frozen broccoli instead of the fresh kind, you’ll barely be able detect the vegetable’s flavour.
When I want sustained energy over a couple of hours, I choose pre-workout meals such as a bowl of oatmeal, a peanut butter and oat smoothie or a baked sweet potato. If I work out in the evening, I don’t really stress as much about pre-workout nutrition. I eat balanced meals throughout the day, and my body will draw upon the nutrients that I’ve consumed earlier to power my evening workout.