The Best Pre-Workout Foods
Ready to feel the burn? These foods will fuel you up the right way.We all want to get the most out of a workout – to train harder, spin faster, run quicker, jump higher. And, while many of us prepare mentally for a challenging workout, we sometimes forget to fuel the engine or to do it properly. So what to eat before a workout?
There are certain best foods to eat before working out that will help our bodies prepare, and which can maximize your efforts in the gym. While we all have different nutritional requirements, these known foods – which are the perfect balance of fats, carbs, and protein – can fuel your body, stave off hunger, fight fatigue, and even aid recovery. So what is a good pre workout snack?
General Pre-Workout Foods:
Known as nature’s power bar, bananas are packed with carbohydrates and potassium, which supports nerve and muscle function. Carbs are fuel for our body and brain, and they account for 90% of banana calories.
Because they are full of fiber, oats release carbohydrates gradually. Due to this slow release, energy levels are kept consistent throughout your workout, meaning you can train harder for longer. They also contain Vitamin B, which helps convert carbohydrates into energy. Irish oats are often considered the best, as they are the least processed type and boast a lower glycemic load than quick-cooking and instant oats. So, keep a look out the next time you go shopping.
3. Grilled Chicken, Broccoli, And Sweet Potato
If you are working on building muscle mass or plan to hit circuit training hard, then this combo is a must-try. Although it is more of a meal than a snack, there’s a reason pro-athletes chow down on this regularly – and we think it’s time you gave it a go.
4. Dried Fruit
For a quick, easy and good pre-workout food, fix yourself some dried berries, apricots, figs, and pineapple. Dried fruits are a good source of simple carbohydrates that are easily digestible – so grab a handful.
5. Whole Grain Bread
One slice of whole grain bread is an excellent source of carbs. Add some hard-boiled eggs for a protein-packed snack, or some low-fat turkey.
5. Fruit And Greek Yogurt
This is a killer combo. The fruit is full of carbohydrates while Greek yogurt packs a protein-filled punch. Compared to regular yogurt, Greek yogurt has almost double the protein, fewer carbs, and half the sodium. Why do they go together? The carbs in the fruit break down quickly and are used as fuel during your workout, while the protein is stored a little longer and is used to prevent muscle damage, so it really is a perfect pairing.
6. Trail Mix
Nuts do have a high-fat content, but they provide the protein and calories required if you are trying to gain muscle mass. For those whose goal is weight loss, steer clear. If you want to buy pre-prepared trail mix from supermarkets, skip the ones containing chocolate or yogurt -coated nuts.
Make sure you eat your meal and snack 30-90 minutes before you work out, so you don’t feel bloated. If eating a larger meal, wait the full 90 minutes, but if you’re sticking with a snack, 30 minutes should be fine.
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Pre-Workout Meals For Specific Goals
1. For Bodybuilding
As a bodybuilder, you’re trying to stay lean and build plenty of muscle. Consuming a small meal about an hour before your workout–not a heavy one that will sit lean in your stomach–will help you see the muscle growth you’re looking for. Your small meal should be made up of equal parts lean protein and carbs. Some great ideas include:
- Egg whites
- Whey protein isolate
- Fruit, including oranges, strawberries, or apples
- Brown rice or long-grain white rice
- Wheat pasta
- Chicken or turkey
Note that timing and portion control are critical in this pre-workout meal. You want to eat enough to give you energy and fuel your muscles throughout your workout, but you also want to be sure that you’re eating early enough and light enough that your food won’t sit heavy in your stomach, slowing you down throughout your workout. Combining some of the sources of lean protein mentioned above with the quicker-digesting carbohydrates about an hour before your workout will ensure that you get the nutrition punch you need to keep building muscle.
If you ever wondered when to drink protein shakes, before or after workout? If your goal is bodybuilding, a protein shake might be good pre-workout food.
2. For Weight Loss
Exercising for weight loss means maintaining a tricky balance. You want to eat enough to keep fueling your body and give you plenty of energy to complete those demanding workouts, but you don’t want to pack on calories that could prevent you from losing the weight you want to lose. Eating lightly around half an hour before your workout will allow you to head in with maximum energy–and combining a complex carbohydrate with a lean protein is the best way to fuel your body.
- A banana with nut butter, especially almond butter
- Multigrain crackers with hummus
- An apple with peanut butter or a small handful of nuts
- 1/2 cup pasta or rice, preferably whole grain
- Any whole piece of fruit
- 1/2 cup oatmeal with raisins or berries
Keep in mind that your goal is to fuel your body through your workout. Fasting cardio won’t have nearly the same results as a properly fueled workout that will drive your success up.
3. For Energy
Going into a workout, you want to be sure that your energy levels are high. After all, you’re going to push your body hard! If you want to avoid that wall that makes you feel as though you’re not going to be able to accomplish your goals, make sure you’re providing your body with complex carbohydrates that will help fuel your workout.
These great ideas of the best pre-workout foods will give you plenty of energy for your training session:
- Fruit smoothies
- Yogurt parfaits with granola and fruit
- Whole grain bread with a couple of slices of lean meat
- Chicken with rice and vegetables
- Apples with peanut butter and raisins
- Greek yogurt
4. For Women’s Health
Women have unique health concerns. They typically don’t burn as many calories per day as men, nor do they have the same workout goals. As a woman, you want to make sure that you’re keeping your calories low while still fueling your workout. You need that same great balance of carbs and protein, but, depending on your workout, you also need to keep the calories low.
Some great pre-workout treats include:
- Fruit smoothies, especially those made with almond milk or another low-calorie option
- Greek yogurt
- Whole fruit
- Lean meat on top of whole grain bread
- 1/2 cup oatmeal sweetened with honey or agave
- 1/2 sweet potato
Finding the right pre-workout combination can be challenging. Once you do, however, you’ll discover that you have more energy and can meet your goals faster.
What to eat after a workout to help you stay on top of your game? And what is the best post workout drink? Of course, water. Make sure to hydrate before, during and after a workout.
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