Anyone who has spent even a marginal amount of time in the fitness community has probably read numerous articles on what they should eat following their workout to maximize their muscle gains and weight loss efforts. Unfortunately, there isn’t as much quality information on pre-workout nutrition and the foods and drinks that will improve your workout the most.
Fortunately, this article is loaded with information for you!
Keep reading below to find out how to choose a proper pre-workout meal!
Pre-Workout Nutrition | 3-4 Hours Before Training
Unless you train first thing in the morning, your pre-workout nutrition strategy should begin approximately 3-4 hours before you head to your training session.
If you do train first thing in the morning, your best option is to ingest some quick fuel, such as whey protein and a banana.
For those of you who train in the afternoon or the evening, eating a full meal approximately two or three hours before your training session can substantially improve your energy and workout efficiency.
Your pre-workout meal should be very balanced, and it should include a stable amount of protein, carbohydrates, and healthy dietary fats.
Options for protein include meats such as chicken, turkey, or fish, as well as vegan protein sources such as hemp.
During your pre-workout meal, you should make sure that you ingest more complex carbohydrates instead of “simple” carbohydrates. Refrain from eating bagels or bread, and instead opt for seeds, nuts, or root vegetables (carrots, sweet potatoes, parsnips, etc.) If you have a sensitive stomach, avoid eating too much fiber before your training session.
Eating a healthy amount of fiber each day is vital for overall digestive system health, but eating too much before training can upset your workout.
Dietary fats are an excellent long-lasting energy source for our bodies, which is why you should try to consume a lot of healthy dietary fats a couple of hours before your workout. Seeds and nuts are excellent options, as well as fatty fish.
If you are not training first thing in the morning and you have time to eat a full meal before your training session, make sure you eat a balanced meal full of long-lasting energy sources!
Pre-Workout Nutrition | 1 Hour Before Training
After you have ingested your pre-workout meal, it is likely that you will still need a bit more nutrition before you head to your workout, especially if you are spending all day at work or moving around.
Personally, I believe the best option for additional energy and nutrition is a pre-workout smoothie.
One of the keys to making a proper pre-workout smoothie is adding only ingredients which are easily digestible. In this scenario, fruits are more valuable than vegetables, seeds, or nuts. Combining a couple of different fruits (such as bananas, apples, kiwis, or any berries) into a smoothie is an excellent additional energy source before your workout.
You can combine these fruits with some additional protein such as whey protein powder or any vegan protein powder for additional easily digestible nutrition.
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Pre-Workout Nutrition | Immediately Pre-Workout
The last part of an effective pre-workout nutrition strategy is the “pre-workout drink.”
Many people enjoy using a bit of caffeine before their workout, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that!
One of the few problems with drinking caffeine before a workout is that you can become dependent on caffeine for your energy. However, if you follow the guidelines listed above for effective pre-workout nutrition, drinking a bit of caffeine before your workout is a great way to have an even more effective workout.
If you are looking for a pre-workout caffeine source, you can drink any pre-workout bodybuilding product, or you can look for an effective caffeine containing natural pre-workout alternative such as coffee or green tea.
For most people, drinking between 60mg and 100mg of caffeine is more than enough to increase mental focus and physical work capacity, drastically improving the overall effectiveness of your workout.
Some pre-workout products on the market contain between 200mg and 300mg of caffeine, which is not necessarily safe.
Whichever pre-workout drink you choose should also help keep you hydrated, and not only supply your body with caffeine. Choose a pre-workout drink which supplies your body with an extra amount of water and some caffeine for a quick boost to your workout!
Post workout nutrition is simple compared to pre-workout nutrition; all you need to do is ingest a specific amount of calories!
Contrarily, pre-workout nutrition is difficult because you need to find which specific foods and drinks provide your body with the best energy, and each person is different!
Depending on your body type, you will need more or less of specific nutrients to feel powerful throughout your workout.
Regardless, the rules remain the same.
Eat a meal containing long-lasting sources of energy about 3 or 4 hours before your training session. Then, about 1 hour before your training session you should ingest an easily digestible nutrition source, which supplies a bit more short-term energy for your workout.
Finally, rev your body up with a caffeine-containing pre-workout product about 15-minutes or so before your training session.
If you follow these general rules, I am confident you will notice you have much more energy during your workout!