Some say it’s best not to eat anything before your workout so as to make your body burn its fat reserves for fuel. This may prove to be a mistake on the long run, since the body will start burning muscle for fuel, instead of fat. Don’t underestimate the importance of pre workout meals, because they can make all the difference when it comes to burning fat and building muscles.
Why is it important to eat before a workout?
To get the best results from your training session, you must be at peak strength when you start working out and your body must have a steady stream of energy to provide to your muscles throughout the exercises. Start your workouts unprepared and the results of your efforts will be disappointing. Before starting to work out, make sure you have a well prepared pre workout food plan that fuels your body at an optimum level. Studies have indicated that having proteins in the blood stream aids muscle growth.
So, eat right before training in order to:
- have enough energy to fuel your body
- increase the quality and efficiency of the workout
- prevent muscle breakdown
- prevent accidents
When is the best time to have your pre workout meal?
Of course you can’t leave the kitchen and go straight to the gym. Your pre workout meal should be at least 45 minutes before starting your exercises. Exercising on a full stomach may cause nausea, cramping or stomach upset. Moreover, you need to let some time pass so that the nutrients reach your bloodstream.
What should you eat before training?
Before training you should have a well balanced meal containing complex carbohydrates, protein and good fats. The food should be easy to digest and provide you with a lot of energy.
Carbs are a large source of energy for the body, and you need energy for your training session. Carbs are converted into glucose – a form of sugar used by the body for fuel. Eat about 50 grams of complex carbohydrates (about 200 calories).
Avoid high glycemic carbs before an intense workout as they cause a quick raise of energy, followed by a quick fall which will leave you tired and depleted after the workout. Low glycemic carbs, on the other hand will provide a steady stream of energy.
Eating the right amount of proteins will keep your body in an anabolic state and reduce muscle breakdown. During the anabolic state, the tissues get energy for growth and maintenance. The recommended quantity of proteins to be consumed before a workout is 30 to 40 grams.
Proteins are high in BCAA (Branched Chain Amino Acids). There are three essential amino acids: leucine, isoleucine and valine, needed for protein synthesis that make up 1/3 of muscles in the body. A good intake of BCAA before and after a workout, prevents the body from braking down muscle.
Fats are also important for vitamin absorption and to replenish your body with energy. Fat provides about 75% if the energy used during an extensive aerobic workout. Be careful how you select your fat sources, because not all fats are good. Good fat is the non-saturated kind, which brings numerous health benefits and is a concentrated source of energy.
Some Meals and snacks ideas
Depending on what time you start working out and taking into account the nutritional facts mentioned above, you can select from the meals and snacks presented below:
- Chicken or turkey with rice or while potatoes;
- Grilled chicken sandwich, low-fat yoghurt and one medium baked potato;
- Bagel or French toast with peanut butter, a medium banana and fruit juice;
- Grilled or baked lean beef, chicken, turkey or fish, with steamed rice or vegetables, fruit juice;
- Two slices of cheese with fruit;
- Hard boiled eggs with hummus;
- Brown rice with lean meat and steamed veggies;
- Cold or hot cereals with low-fat milk and dried fruit;
- A tortilla wrap filled with tuna;
- One cup of cooked oatmeal with fresh berries;
- One cup of lentils with natural or low-fat yoghurt;
- Tossed green salad with cucumbers and tomatoes and a piece of lean meat;
- Cottage cheese with sunflower seeds and dried fruit;
Or create your own meal plan using the following:
Great protein sources: chicken, turkey, beef, salmon, tuna, seafood, eggs, yoghurt and other dairy products, beans and protein shakes
Great sources of complex carbs: pasta, high fiber breakfast cereals, peas, whole grains like rye, corn, oats, brown rice, maize, millet and quinoa, fruit like citrus fruits, apples, bananas, pears
Great sources of good fat: cold water fish; plant oils such as grape seed oil, olive oil, canola oil or coconut oil; nuts and seeds, avocado
An intense workout is one when you strain your muscles and body at the max. For you training session to be a success, and in order to be able to give it 100%, you need to be full of energy and provide your body with the nutrients it needs to perform at an optimum level. These pre workout meals and snacks ideas will enhance your performance and help you build nice abdominal muscles at a faster pace.