Everyone’s body is different.
Some people are able to smash their workouts after a heavy, complex-carb laden meal, whereas others, myself included, prefer to have a light snack before a workout, just to give the body enough fuel to get through the exercise.
These are my top pre-workout fuel tips:
- Focus on simple carbohydrates, like fruits. Fructose is utilized fairly quickly during exercise, and majority of it will be utilized by the brain. That means mental clarity during your exercise, which is equally as important as having the right amount of energy to get through your routine.
- Limit fats. Fatty foods digest slowly and will make you feel sluggish.
- Too much fiber before a workout is not a good idea, especially if you are a runner. The last thing you want is disaster pants on the treadmill.
- Save the complex, starchy carbs for after your workout. There’s a simple science behind this: simple carbohydrates, like sugars, are stored as glycogen in the live (liver glycogen). They are utilized fairly rapidly during exercise. Complex, starchy carbohydrates are stored as glycogen in the muscles (muscle glycogen). They help to repair muscle fibers post-workout. They also take longer to breakdown, which will keep you satisfied after your exercise.
- Do not eat a lot of protein. Again, too much protein will take fairly long to break down in the digestive tract and will give you a “too full” feeling during your exercise session. It’s best to refuel with protein after your workout.
Some great pre-workout snacks:
- Apples with honey and/ or nut butter;
- Low fat yogurt with mixed berries and a tablespoon of granola;
- Black coffee or green tea;
- Date and grain balls;
- A small, homemade granola bar;
- A small handful of trail mix;
- A small amount of chocolate;
- Carob or yogurt coated fruit;
- Crispbread with peanut butter and banana;
- A small fruity smoothie
The takeaway message:
Everyone’s body and caloric needs pre-workout are different, but with the right research and some trial and error, you can give yourself the right amount (and type) of energy to keep yourself fueled (and sane) during your exercise.