05 Sep What to Eat Before a Workout
Nutrition is so, wholly important. I grew up under the notion that the body is extremely similar to a car, running on food and liquids rather than gasoline. Just like an automobile, the body is a beautiful and intricate creation. Just like an automobile, it can transport you from adventure to adventure. However, also just like an automobile, it needs upkeep and “food” to run. The purer and more “nutritious” the “food”, the more smoothly it will operate. You can’t fill up a car with just any liquid and expect it to run, why should we treat our bodies any differently?
Nutrition is even more so critical when the equation includes exercise. As a baseline, the body requires a certain amount of nutrition, depending on your gender, age, genetics, occupation, etc., simply to exist, for the brain to send signals, the muscles to fire, and the intestines to digest. Adding physical activity on top of this daily existence? Your body is going to crave extra nutrients as well as foods that will best fuel this physical activity. Without proper fueling and refueling, your workout’s benefits become less effective.
So, then, what should we eat before a workout? Below, the focus is on perfect pre-workout foods; foods that will help nourish and prepare the body for activity. Generally, you want to eat a snack-type meal about 60 minutes before exercise (to allow for digestion) and target proteins and complex carbohydrates. This combination helps incite better muscle response and recovery, and builds higher energy stores into which your body can tap during high intensity exercise.
Try one of the following for your next pre-workout snacks:
- Banana/apple with nut butter (peanut, almond, cashew)
- Greek yogurt with honey and fruit
- A slice of whole wheat/grain bread with nut butter and jelly
- A hard-boiled egg and toast
- Handful of mixed nuts
- Whole grain energy bars (think Clif, Luna, and KIND bars)
- Fruit smoothie (try drinking this about 2 to 1 ½ hours before working out; mix banana, nut butter, oats, nut milk (e.g. almond or cashew), and ½ an avocado for extra creaminess)
- Oatmeal (eat about 2 hours before working out to ensure digestion; add nut butter, granola, and fruit)
*It’s important to note that if you’re trying to stick to a paleo or no-grain diet, you still need to get enough carbs in to support your workout. This will, then, be in the form of vegetables and/or fruits. Shoot for sweet potatoes if you need a vegetable with a higher carb count before your workouts.