Are you the one going to gym empty stomach, thinking that you are burning thousands of calories and feeling like a macho, advocating others on how you can spend several hours exercising? Oh yes and then you lose weight but feel lethargic, bloated tired and irritated. Even friends come up to you and accept your weight reduction. No, no, don’t get too happy. They also inquire about your sickness and wellbeing that caused such change.
Enough has been said and written about the importance of exercise. We cannot have emphasized enough on the importance of exercise that not only helps to lose weight, but it is the best therapy for your physical and mental health. But things get muddled up when there are no pre-workout meals. We can go on to the extent of saying that all your efforts have gone down the drain if this meal (post-workout meal is also equally important) is left out.
Pre-workout meal not only gives you energy but optimal nutrient intake ensures maximum performance and minimum muscle damage. Today, we’ll brief you on everything about pre work out meal.
Nourishing your body with the right nutrients prior to exercise will give you the strength to perform better.
We all remember studying categories of nutrients in middle school. For optimum benefits from exercise, we need a combination of groups of nutrients to fuel our body. However, the combination of nutrients to be consumed depends on the type of activity, and it varies for each individual.
Carbohydrates or Carbs for short. This is the fuel of your muscles. The muscles use glucose from carbs to keep you going.
The body processes and stores glucose in the form of glycogen, mainly in liver and muscles.
For short- and high-intensity exercise, your glycogen stores are your muscles’ primary source of energy.
The glycogen stores are limited in muscles. If you workout without a prior meal, the stores get depleted, and your intensity and output decrease.
Protein provides the building blocks of the body, and not just for muscle. Every cell, from bone to skin to hair, contains protein.
Eating protein before exercising increases muscle protein synthesis. It increases both muscle recovery and performance. It increases muscle growth, which in turn encourages strength and lean body mass.
While glycogen is used for short- and high-intensity bouts of exercise, fat is the source of fuel for longer and moderate-to-low-intensity exercise.
Many studies have suggested that increased fat intake has improved runners’ performance over some time.
Timings of Pre–Workout meal
It is important to eat right at the right time.
A seasonal fruit is a good option for a pre-workout meal. It should be taken half an hour before workout.
Nuts and milk are good options too. If you are having a complete meal, then ensure a good three hours gap between the meal and exercise.
The sooner you eat before workout, the lighter and simpler the meal should be. Choosing simple meal will ensure no stomach discomfort during exercise.
A good rule of thumb is to eat a mixture of carbs and protein in your pre work out meal. However, fat should be consumed 2-3 hours before exercise.
If your workouts start within 2-3 hours
- Whole grain bread sandwich with lean protein and a salad(no creamy dressings please)
- Omelet with multi grain bread and a cup of fruit
- Grilled fish or chicken with brown rice and roasted vegetables
If you exercise within 2 hours
- Muesli and milk
- Peanut butter sandwich on whole grain bread
- Protein powder smoothie with any seasonal fruit
- A bowl of oatmeal topped with nuts and apples
If you exercise within 1 hour or less
- A fruit like banana or apple
- A glass of milk or yoghurt
- Any nutrition bar
Experiment with different nutrient compositions and see what works best for you.
Beta-Alanine, caffeine, creatinine and branched-chain amino acids supplements are recommended prior to work out. They not only enhance performance but also improve strength, increase lean body mass and reduce fatigue.
Some people prefer products that contain a combination of the supplements mentioned. This amalgamation may have collective effects and improved performance remarkably.
But a word of caution. Please consult a nutritionist before taking any supplement.
Water is absolutely essential for human body. A body can go days without food but not without water. Water flushes out the body toxins, hydrate the body and avoids constipation. It also improves brain function and mood.
Once you begin exercising, the body begins to lose water in the form of sweating. A well-hydrated body sustains and even improve the performance while dehydration is a major cause of tiredness during exercise.
It is recommended to consume both sodium and water before exercise. The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends drinking 16–20 ounces (0.5–0.6 liters) of water at least four hours before exercise and 8–12 ounces (0.23–0.35 liters) of water 10–15 minutes before exercise
Additionally, they recommend consuming a beverage that contains sodium to help retain fluids.
Replenish your body with water during exercise also.
Cutting it short, planning the right pre-workout meal enhances your performance and helps you recover better.
So next time when you hit the gym, keep your body well-nourished and tell us the difference 🙂