The best foods to eat before a workout depend on the type of workout and the person’s goals. Protein-rich foods, for example, can help a person build muscle during resistance training. When choosing a pre-workout meal, it’s important to look for a balance of macronutrients. Macronutrients are food compounds that the body needs in large amounts to function properly.
The three macronutrients are:
Macronutrients are all essential energy sources, but each can contribute differently to a pre-workout meal.
Protein provides amino acids, and both are essential for a whole host of bodily functions, including building, maintaining, and repairing muscle fibers. Eating a meal containing a significant amount of lean protein before exercising can help improve performance.
Why is protein a good pre-workout food?
Eating high-protein foods like salmon before a workout can boost muscle mass gains. Protein can increase the amount of muscle mass gained during resistance training. Intense bouts of resistance exercise damage muscle, but eating protein increases the number of amino acids in the body. These work to reduce breakdown, synthesize muscle protein and stimulate growth.
Consuming 20-30 grams of protein before a workout can cause an increase in the rate of muscle protein synthesis that lasts for several hours.
Foods high in protein
Here are some examples of healthy, protein-rich foods:
fish, such as salmon and tuna
poultry, such as chicken and turkey
Anyone wishing to gain muscle should ensure that they receive an adequate overall daily protein intake.
Research has consistently shown that consuming 1.6 to 1.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight is sufficient for building muscle.
Many sources recommend consuming more, but additional protein is unlikely to have a significant impact on muscle mass.
People should eat complex carbohydrates, such as beans, 2-3 hours before working out.
Carbohydrates are an essential source of energy.
Consuming the right amount of carbohydrates before a workout will allow the body to have enough energy to function well. This is true for people who do cardiovascular and resistance exercise, among others.
However, different types of carbohydrates have a different impact:
Simple carbohydrates: These are sugars that provide a quick boost in energy. White bread is a common source of these carbohydrates.
Complex carbohydrates: These include fiber or starch. They provide a slower and longer lasting source of energy. Whole grain foods are a good source of complex carbohydrates.
What kind of carbs are best in a pre-workout meal?
Complex carbohydrates have a number of benefits:
Simple carbohydrates are sources of short-term energy. If a pre-workout meal includes too many simple carbohydrates, a person may experience a drop in energy before completing their workout. Complex carbohydrates provide energy on a more regular basis over a longer period.
Complex carbohydrates are components of foods that tend to be nutrient dense, such as beans. Simple carbohydrates are usually components of foods that have little or no nutritional value, such as chocolate bars and cakes.
Foods that contain complex carbohydrates have a lower glycemic index than those that contain simple carbohydrates. A type of food with a low glycemic index is unlikely to cause blood sugar spikes and increase the risk of type 2 diabetes.
The body digests complex carbohydrates more slowly than simple carbohydrates. To increase energy before a workout, a person should eat complex carbohydrates 2-3 hours before, and any simple carbohydrate 30-60 minutes before.
Complex carbohydrate foods
Here are some examples of healthy foods that contain complex carbohydrates:
broccoli, sweet potatoes and other vegetables
whole grain pasta
whole wheat bread
Fruit is the best source of simple carbohydrates before a workout. Bananas are a popular choice because they contain potassium as well as simple carbohydrates.
Fats are an essential source of energy. Traditionally, health professionals advise against consuming high-fat meals before exercise because the body digests fat more slowly than carbohydrates. This means the body may not be able to break down and absorb fat before a workout begins.
Can fats help before a workout?
Before a workout, it may be better to eat a meal that focuses more on protein and carbs than fat. However, it is important to incorporate healthy fats elsewhere in a balanced diet. It should also be noted that not all fats are healthy. Certain types of fat, including saturated fat and trans fat, can negatively impact overall health.
Foods high in fat
Other types of fats, on the other hand, are very nutritious. Unsaturated fats, for example, have many health benefits.
Below are some foods high in unsaturated fats:
nuts and seeds
When to have a pre-workout meal
Ideally, a person should eat a meal high in complex carbohydrates and protein about 2-3 hours before exercising. Waiting a few hours after eating gives the body time to digest the meal. A person may also prefer a lighter meal, consisting mostly of simple carbohydrates. In this case, it is enough for him to wait 30 to 60 minutes before exercising.