What To Eat Before Working Out for Better Results

What To Eat Before Working Out for Better Results

Most people choose to work out in order to build muscle mass and lose weight. This means that they keep a careful eye on what they eat, and may even go into a cardio or strength training workout, before eating or stopping to drink water. Not only is this not healthy for you, but it can seriously affect your diet and performance by depriving you of what your body needs.

In order to get that new personal record for weight loss or reps in the gym, you need to fuel your workout with the right foods. When you add in the fact that working out on an empty stomach means that you’re hungrier than usual when you’re done, there go your diet and energy levels. Here’s how you can keep a happy balance between the two, straight from our experts at My Fit Foods.

Eating Before a Workout

Knowing that you should eat before a workout and understanding when the best time is to eat are two different things. Not only do you want to fuel your workouts, but you also need to successfully complete them, rather than succumbing to the stomachache or cramps that come about from eating too soon before you hit the gym.

The best time to eat —and take pre-workout supplements like a sports drink with electrolytes or amino acids — is 30 to 45 minutes before a training session. Any sooner and you might make yourself sick (see the cramps and stomach problems above). If you wait longer than that to exercise, you may not be fueling your workout properly.

The goal is to have enough energy to complete the workout, not to suffer through it because you didn’t eat enough or ate too much. It’s crucial to have that balance. Food is a source of energy and essential for healthy living, but there’s a point when you get too much of a good thing.

Pay Attention to Your Macros

There are three main macronutrients, also known as macros. They can all help you get better results during your workout. These macros are:

  • Carbohydrates — Often shortened to “carbs,” this macro is turned into a source of energy by the body. The sugars, also known as glucose, in carbs are stored in the muscles, as well as the liver. When you exercise, you can draw on this stored glucose, as your organs process it in order to give you energy. The only downside is that carbs can only provide you with energy for a short period of time. For this reason, it’s best to eat carbs before short, high intensity workouts. You can choose a piece of fruit, brown rice, sweet potato, or starchy veggies as your pre-workout carb source.
  • Fat — On the other hand, fat does the opposite. This macro can provide you with enough fuel for a very long time, as long as you keep your workouts in the low to moderate intensity range, like jogging or training for a marathon. According to some studies, eating a diet that consists of around 40% fat can boost your overall endurance, making it ideal for this type of workout.
  • Protein — When it comes to macros, none can help your workout quite like lean protein, as any nutritionist or dietitian will tell you. This macro can help you build stronger muscles in a shorter amount of time (which is why bodybuilders use protein powder), as well as help you shorten your overall post-workout recovery periods. A diet that consists of at least 20 grams of protein per day can increase your overall muscle performance, so you’ll be able to lift heavier weights or run for longer periods of time, and it can help you build lean body mass.

Now that you know what you should include in your pre-workout meals, it’s time to go over some meal suggestions.

What To Eat Before Working Out

If you plan on working out and eating between 30 and 45 minutes beforehand, then you’ll want simpler foods that are easy to digest, as well as full of protein, fat, and carbohydrates. Want some ideas? Here are a bunch of healthy pre-workout meals that you’ll enjoy.

Toast or Rolls Made of Whole Grains

Bread or rolls made with whole grains contain the right amount of carbs to help you get through a workout. Unlike the standard, white bread types of biscuits, rolls, or toast, which have a lot of carbs in the form of sugars that can cause your blood sugar to crash, whole grains will help. Plus, they’re good for you as well.

Yogurt

Not only is yogurt extremely portable, since it comes in handy little containers, but it has all of the right elements to fuel a workout. Yogurt contains a little fat, some protein, and the right kind of carbs. Plus, you can toss a cup of it in your workout bag and eat it on your way to the gym. Just make sure to wait a bit before hitting the hard parts of your workout in order to give the yogurt time to digest.

Fruit

There’s nothing wrong with fresh fruit. In fact, one of the best things that you can eat pre-workout is a banana. Filled with fiber and carbs, bananas also have a ton of potassium, which can help prevent muscle cramps (Not to mention the portable factor of a banana).

Looking for other types of fruit to eat? Berries, like blueberries and strawberries, are always good. So are melons. All of these fruits have a number of important nutrients.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich

There’s no rule that peanut butter and jelly sandwiches need to be eaten at lunchtime only. The fact is, you can enjoy them at any time of the day.

Not only will you get plenty of essential micronutrients (also known as vitamins and minerals) from your PBJ, but you’ll also get some of those macros as well. Peanut butter contains fats and protein, while bread and jelly have carbs. Just make sure to use whole-grain bread instead of white bread, and you’ll be good to go.

Oatmeal

Oatmeal is one of those amazing foods that has a ton of potential. While you don’t want to make instant oatmeal before a workout (although you can do so every once in a while, when you’re crunched for time), you have a number of other options. Consider making overnight oats with whole oats, and tossing in some mixers, like fruit, in the morning before your workout.

Other options include standard oatmeal, made fresh with whole oats, as well as specialized versions, like pumpkin oatmeal. Just try not to add too many sugary additions, or you’ll be setting yourself up for a blood sugar crash in the middle of your run.

Hard Boiled Eggs

When it comes to portable pre-workout snacks, look no further than hard-boiled eggs. You can place a few, still in their shells, inside of a plastic or metal container, and be on your way. Plus, since hard-boiled eggs stay good for a while, you can boil up a bunch on the weekend and have meals for the rest of the week.

Filled with protein and healthy fats, hard-boiled eggs are also easy to digest, making them one of the ideal foods to eat before a workout of any type.

Protein Shakes or Smoothies

There’s a reason why bodybuilders and other hardcore exercisers choose to have protein shakes before a workout: the protein fuels them and helps them bulk up their muscles, make those gains, and it shortens their recovery time. Plus, if they’re made right, protein shakes can be tasty.

Consider including whey protein powder, fresh fruit, oat milk, and other healthy ingredients in your protein smoothies. While the final ingredients list is up to you, the key is to make something that’s not only good for you (and your personal record time), but also tasty. Otherwise, you may not want to drink it.

Coffee or Tea

Yes, you can drink coffee before a workout. Or choose tea if you prefer. Both have plenty of caffeine, which can give you a solid burst of energy. Just keep in mind that you shouldn’t have coffee or tea on an empty stomach. Eat some whole grains or fruit along with it to avoid any consequences.

Eating Before a Workout

No matter the time of day that you choose to exercise, you’ll need to eat something beforehand. You might be tempted to roll out of bed at 4 a.m. and get right to the gym or trail, but it’s crucial to eat first if you want your workout to be successful.

Otherwise, you might find yourself lagging, without energy, or even worse, unable to complete your workout. In addition, not eating first can lead to snacking on unhealthy foods immediately afterward. Thankfully, we have plenty of pre-exercise meal suggestions for you. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us!

Sources:

Pre-Workout Nutrition: What to Eat Before a Workout | Healthline

What Should I Eat 30 Minutes Before a Workout? | MedicineNet

What to Eat Before and After a Workout | WebMD