Pre Workout Nutrition: What You Should Eat Before Exercise

Whether you are exercising to lose fat or build muscles, what you eat before exercise is important and will have an effect on your performance and recovery. If your goal is to lose fat you should take a different approach than someone who wants to build muscles (stick around, I’ll discuss this in depth later).

The time period between the meal and the workout is also something to consider. Eating too soon before a workout has its unpleasant effects like throwing up, cramps and other digestive issues.

In this article you will learn why pre workout nutrition is important, time between the meal and the workout and what you should eat before exercise, depending on your goals.

pre workout nutrition blueberries

Why pre workout nutrition is important

You may have not thought of pre workout nutrition before this article or gave it attention it deserves. Well, that is about to change. Knowing what to do before an exercise will make a significant difference in your workout sessions and your results. Here are the benefits of pre workout nutrition.

#1. Boosts performance

Eating before exercise is a great way to increase your energy levels and improve your performance during the workout, as this study shows. A workout on an empty stomach is not something that many people can handle. Eating a few hours before exercise will also increase your intensity during the workout.

#2. Speedy recovery

Eating a meal before workout will give you a speedy recovery once the workout is over. This study, which dates back to 2001, shows that eating proteins before a workout speeded up recovery and increased protein synthesis.

#3. Hydration

Drinking beverages before exercise is a great way to keep you hydrated through the exercise. You should also drink water during the workout.

When to eat pre workout meals

As I said earlier, the time when to eat these meals is important. Eat 3-4 hours before the workout. I suggest that time period because that’s how long it takes solid food to be digested, it takes liquids 1-2 hours to digest. But if you usually exercise early in the morning and can’t work with that time, eat a small meal or a fruit and a beverage before exercise.

If you have to eat an hour or a few minutes before the workout, eat something light or drink a beverage. Eating too soon before the workout can cause the issues I mentioned earlier.

You should approach pre workout nutrition differently when you want to burn fat, as opposed to when you want to build muscle.

Pre workout nutrition for fat loss

When exercising for weight loss it’s important you observe what you eat before the workout. To burn fat the body should tap energy from fat stores rather than using energy from proteins, carbs and fats consumed. You’ll also want to eat foods that will enhance fat burning.

Here you have two options, option one is intermittent fasting, this basically means you’ll be training on fasted state. But it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to exercise on an empty stomach. You can eat an apple or eat something light. I know that intermittent fasting not easy for first timers, let alone working out on fasted state. But it can totally be done when you train the body. Intermittent fasting is actually amazing; numerous studies have associated it with extended lifespan.

Option two is eat foods that have been shown to have the effects of fasting and exercise. Foods and beverages like coffee, cocoa, green tea, and lean meat from grass fed cows. Research indicates that caffeine, which is tea and coffee, boosts athletic performance. So drink green tea or coffee an hour before a workout.

Eat a piece of lean meat or eggs and carbs (200-300 calories meal) and drink either of these beverages before exercise. If you are inclined toward biology read this article by Ori Hofmekler, it explains this concept in depth.

pre workout nutrition food

Pre workout nutrition for building muscles

If you want to build muscles you should to take a different approach. You’ll have to eat a moderate amount (400-600 calories) proteins and carbs before the workout. No need to eat fats since they don’t have any effect on athletic performs and they take long to digest.

Eating proteins before exercise has these benefits:

Source for amino acids: By the time you start exercising there will be amino acid in your blood. This will improve the muscle building capacities.

Helps increase the growth of muscles: this is great for your health and improving body composition.

Eating carbohydrates before exercise has these benefits:

Fuels training and helps recovery: Carbs will enhance your performance during the workout and will help fasten your recovery.

Stimulates release of insulin: When combined with protein, carbs improve protein synthesis and prevent muscle breakdown.

Here are some of the foods you might want to eat.

A banana

Oatmeal, blueberries and nuts

Proteins- Chicken breast, lean meat, eggs or low fat cheese

Add veggies to the meal

And drink plenty of water to stay hydrated

If you a man eat a meal of 500-600 calories and if you are a woman eat 300-400, but this may vary depending on your weight and target goals. Remember to eat 3-4 hours before the workout.

Final word

What you eat before workouts will have an effect on your results in the long run. If you don’t have enough time to prepare for a pre workout meal just eat a banana or an apple and a drink.

If you eat too little and find that you have no energy when exercising or you are feeling dizzy, eat more before the exercise. But at the end of the day you should maintain a calorie deficit if you want to lose weight.

Do you always eat before you exercise? Leave a comment and let me know.

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