A car functions well with regular gas, but it reaches its optimal state when fuelled with high-octane fuel. Similarly, it would be best to have a pre-workout meal or a supplement to fuel your workout and boost your performance. In addition, pre-workout supplements and foods help to enhance your performance by promoting energy, increasing mental focus, and delaying fatigue.
Working out should not feel like a burden, and proper pre-workout nutrition ensures that you enjoy your workout sessions without feeling super exhausted. We all want to train hard, jump higher, run faster, in short, get the most out of our workout sessions. Pre-workout supplements and food prepare your body for the workout and help you achieve your fitness goal.
Everyone is different and thus have different nutritional requirements. Your pre-workout nutrition needs to match your fitness goal and body needs. To make it more transparent, if your goal is to build muscles, you should go for a protein-rich pre-workout supplement that will help you increase your muscle mass. There are various ready-to-eat supplements available in the market in capsules, drinks, powders, pills, gummies, etc. You can choose the one according to your requirement and liking.
In this article, we will be focusing more on food-based pre-workout nutrition. Natural fruits, vegetables, drinks and foods are great for our health and save us from unwanted side effects in the long run. So read on to know the best pre-workout foods to enhance your workout performance.
What is a Pre-Workout Supplement with nutritional value?
Pre-workout nutrition refers to any supplement or food that people take before a workout to boost their workout performance and maintain their energy levels. Different companies and brands use other ingredients in their pre-workout mix. However, the primary components in all pre-workout include a combination of B vitamins, carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and antioxidants. Many people also take certain fruits, meals, and drinks as pre-workout.
If you do not like artificial supplements, you can opt for real food to get adequate pre-workout nutrition. Remember, the food you eat as your pre-workout meal should be rich in carbs, moderate protein, and low in fat and fibre. Carbs are what fuel your body and keep you going. So include good quality carbs in your pre-workout meal. Protein helps to build and repair muscles. Avoid too much fat and fibre in your pre-workout nutrition as they tend to slow down digestion and cause gastric issues during your workout.
When to Take Pre-Workout Nutrition/Supplement
You can take your pre-workout meals 30 minutes to 3 hours before your workout. If you do not have enough time before your workout, go for light and easy to digest nourishing snacks. Heavy foods sit in your stomach for long and can cause bloating and lethargy.
In the case of supplements, you should take the pre-workout supplements at least 30 to 60 minutes before hitting the gym or beginning your workout. Again, you can read the instruction at the back of the supplement bottle for better understanding.
Benefits of Pre-Workout Nutrition:
- Pre-workout supplements fuel your body
- Boost energy levels
- Help to work out for a longer duration
- Improves performance
- Fights fatigue
- Prevents injury and ensures faster recovery from injuries
- Helps to power through intense training sessions
- Develops muscle strength
- Builds muscle endurance
- It makes workout less taxing
10 Pre-Workout Foods/Meals
Here is a list of some pre-workout foods you include in your workout regime for better energy and enhanced performance.
Bananas are natural power bars. They contain potassium, natural sugar, and simple carbohydrates that fuel our body and enhance our nerve and muscle function. Consume a banana 30 minutes to an hour before your workout to boost your glycogen stores and increase blood sugar levels.
2. Protein Bar
If you are always on the go and find it challenging to indulge in elaborate pre-workout foods, then a protein bar is your friend. Protein bars are rich in protein, carbohydrates, and glucose that will immediately boost your energy levels and keep you going for hours.
Oats are not only great for your heart health but are also an excellent pre-workout option. They are full of fibre, carbohydrates, and vitamin B. Oats release energy slowly and help to maintain consistent energy levels throughout the workout.
The caffeine present in coffee is a natural stimulant. It enhances aerobic endurance, muscle strength, muscle endurance, and overall performance. It also boosts energy levels and keeps one alert throughout the workout. Experts advise consuming 3–6 mg of caffeine per kilogram of body weight as pre-workout.
5. Beetroot Juice
Beetroot helps increase the body’s nitric oxide level, which helps to expand blood vessels and improve blood flow. Take beetroot juice 30 minutes before your workout to improve your cardiovascular performance.
6. Peanut Butter
Who said pre-workout needs to be boring? Spread some peanut butter on sliced apple wedges and have it as your pre-workout snack. The protein from the peanut butter and nutrients from the apple together will give you the perfect boost of energy without increasing your calorie intake. Consume it at least 30 minutes before your workout.
Workout and eggs have a long relationship. Eggs are a great source of muscle-building protein and amino acids. To avoid the fat content of the egg, you can have it in the form of an omelette by just including the egg white. You can also eat some green leafy vegetables along with eggs to increase the nutritional value. Eat eggs at least 2-3 hours before your workout.
8. Protein Shakes
A good protein shake can completely change your workout game. You can buy a good-quality protein shake that contains BCAAs, whey protein, simple carbohydrates, and other essential nutrients. Sip your protein shake at least an hour before your workout to get maximum results.
9. Chicken, Rice, and Vegetables
This is a perfect pre-workout meal and works wonders for the body. These meals contain a good source of lean protein and complex carbohydrates that promote muscle growth. The complex carbohydrates release slow energy and help to maintain a constant level of energy throughout the workout. Consume this healthy pre-workout meal at least 2-3 hours before hitting the gym.
10. Whole Grain Bread
A slice of whole-grain bread, along with some boiled egg, is not only delicious but an excellent pre-workout meal. This combination provides you with the right amount of carbohydrates and proteins and gives you an instant energy boost. Consume it at least 30 minutes to an hour before your workout session.
What and When to Eat Before a Workout?
- All your pre-workouts should contain the three main macronutrients: carbohydrates, protein, and fats.
- Avoid overeating fat before your workout, as it can make you sluggish and sleepy.
- Consume high-quality protein before your workout to provide your body with BCAAs, which are the amino acids that prevent muscle breakdown and aid muscle recovery
- Consume simple carbohydrates at least 30 minutes to an hour before your workout. Complex carbohydrates require more time to get digested, therefore consume them at least 2-3 hours before your workout.
- Consume 200-250 calories, proteins and carbohydrates at least 2-3 hours before your workout to avoid feeling sluggish
One size does not fit all when it comes to pre-workout nutrition. In recent times the usage of supplements has grown as we have supplements for all concerns. Therefore, some of us prefer ready to consume supplements. When opting for a supplement, it is best to consult a dietician or a nutritionist.
Another school of thought is to stick to food-based nutrition. For a fit lifestyle, eating proper home-cooked meals with a balance of protein, carbohydrates, and fat sources are mostly enough to fulfil all your nutritional requirements. It is always advisable to get help from the experts if you feel drained out after a workout.
If your body has stopped responding to the level of activity and the physical progress has stagnated, there is a possibility that you need to supplement exercise with the right level of nutrition.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
A. There is a variety of foods that you can have before your workout. Foods like bananas, protein shakes, boiled eggs, fruits, smoothies, and caffeine are great pre-workout options.
A. Carbohydrates and proteins are the major pre-workout nutrients. You can also consume fat but in moderate quantities.
A. It boosts your energy levels, enhances cognitive function, and improves your athletic performance.
A. Coffee is a great pre-workout option that helps to improve your focus, enhances muscle endurance, and provides strength during workout sessions.
A. Pre-workout nutrition is usually a mix of carbs, proteins, and fats. One should consume a meal at least 2 -3 hours before working out. Eating a proper pre-workout meal is essential for the body to digest all the nutrients and produce energy.