What Should You Eat Before You Work Out? A Complete Guide

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Have you ever felt extremely weak while working out? Have you ever felt so uncomfortably full that working out felt like punishment? Are you in search of what can keep you energized and active throughout your workout session?

I used to also ponder on these questions. Knowing exactly what you need to fuel your body will enable you have adequate energy to improve your workout performance. This guide will provide you with what you should or shouldn’t eat before and after a workout session.

Is it safe if you work out on an empty stomach?

Studies recommend that you work out in a fasted state. This means working out first thing in the morning before you eat anything.

Many believe exercising on an empty stomach helps in weight loss. However, it all depends on the person’s health. When you exercise on an empty stomach, it is called fasted cardio.

 

Does working out on an empty stomach improve performance?

The downsides of working out on an empty stomach is that you might have less stamina and may end up with nausea as a result of very low sugar levels.

It can also result in lack of protein in your body. When you lack protein, your body uses the protein it has stored, this can cause muscle loss. While you might perform better working out on an empty stomach, it is important to eat something before exercising. This will give you required energy and nutrients needed for an awesome workout.

 

What is a pre-workout meal?

A pre-workout meal is a meal that can provide your body with enough energy to improve performance before a workout session. If you are eating a pre-workout meal, make sure you work out 1 hour and 30 minutes after your meal. If it is a snack like a banana, you can eat 30 minutes before the workout.

There are six classes of food: carbohydrates, proteins, fats, dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals. The foods that are important for pre-workout meals are carbohydrates, proteins, minerals, vitamins, and fiber.

An adequate amount of carbohydrates will provide you with extra glucose to fuel you. Protein helps in muscle building. It helps in repairing and building muscles before and after your workout.

When you carry out training exercises like weight training, your muscle can develop small tears. With protein, your body can repair those tears and build bigger and stronger muscles. You can get protein from nuts, milk or meat (preferably chicken).

 

What are the best pre-workout meals?

It is not about eating something before you work out. It’s essential that you have a meal that’s packed with nutrients. Here are a few great meal options.

Grilled chicken, veggies and brown Rice

Grilled chicken, veggies and brown Rice

Brown rice is a good source of carbohydrates and fiber which are energy giving foods. Chicken provides protein which is good for muscle building. Vegetables like carrots and broccoli will provide you with vitamins. This combination is a fantastic choice for intense training and muscle building.

Fruit bowl

fruit bowl

Another awesome pre-workout meal is a fruit bowl. It is important that you consume enough fruits and vegies daily. Making a fruit bowl with banana, pears and apples will be an amazing pre- workout meal.

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Bananas are a great source of potassium and carbohydrates. They contain a lot of starch which provide the body with energy. One banana can provide your body with energy to last you over an hour working out.

Peanut or Honey Sandwich

Another great meal choice before a workout is a peanut or honey sandwich. Honey is an awesome source of natural sugar which gives energy.

Peanut butter is a great source of protein. Combine either of these with a slice or two of whole wheat bread and you have a proper pre-workout meal. You can also add bananas slices for more nutrients and energy.

Oatmeal

oatmeal

Oatmeal is an amazing choice for a pre-workout meal. It contains a lot of fiber and vitamin B.

Vitamin B helps convert carbohydrates into energy. You can have a small bowl of instant oatmeal with honey as a natural sweetener before your workout session. It is important that you pick out oats that haven’t been processed.

Fruit and Greek yoghurt bowl

greek yoghurt bowl

Greek yoghurt contains protein and natural sugars that are good energy providers. While selecting yoghurt for a pre-workout meal, ensure that it is free of any sweeteners.

Greek yoghurt is also protein packed. Fruits like apples and bananas have carbohydrates that breakdown easily and provide energy for your workout.

Soft Boiled egg and slice of whole wheat bread

egg and bread

This awesome combo comes with carbohydrates and protein. You can also substitute the soft boiled egg for half of an avocado.

 

What is the best meal to have after a workout?

Don’t starve after you work out! Eating after your workout is very essential. It will replace and replenish calories and the glycogen used up while working out.

The food we eat contains certain minerals called electrolytes. Our neurons need these minerals to function properly.

Consuming enough protein after a workout repairs and builds muscle loss.

When we exercise and sweat, we lose electrolytes. If you starve after a workout, you might end up with low blood sugar levels. This will make it harder to meet your fitness goals. Here is what you can have after a workout.

Rehydrate yourself

The first thing to do after about 15minutes after a workout, is to drink enough water to rehydrate yourself. Drink enough water after working out to replace the fluids you lost through sweat.

Eat nutrients

After rehydrating, make sure you get food to eat immediately. You can have a small snack like fruits before a full course meal after some hours.

Make sure your meals contain complex carbohydrates like brown rice and nuts. Eat healthy proteins like beans, chicken and fish.

You should also add vitamins from fruits and vegetables. An ideal post work out meal will be a plate of grilled sweet potatoes and grilled salmon.

 

What is a good pre workout drink?

pre-workout drink

The most important pre-workout drink is water. Make sure you drink a lot of water to stay hydrated throughout your workout. It is advisable to take about two cups of water two hours before working out. Drink at least a cup of water every 20 to 30 minutes depending on how intensive your workout is. Also, ensure that you drink water 15mins after your workout session.

Green tea is something that will be an amazing pre-workout drink for you. Green tea won’t only leave you hydrated but contains very low calories and is good for weight loss.

Another good pre-workout drink is a protein shake. Protein shakes aid in muscle repair and building. You can take a protein shake as a snack pre and post workout.

For prolonged workout sessions, your body needs a good amount of protein. We have a complete guide on Pre-Workout worth checking out.

 

What should you avoid before a workout?

foods to avoid before workout

Extremely fatty foods

It is advisable to incorporate fats into your diet. But you should avoid fatty foods before you work out.

Foods like pork chops and chips can make you tired during a workout session. This is because your body takes a longer time to break down and change fats into energy.

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Sweetened Smoothies

Drinking smoothies can be fantastic way of gaining nutrients and getting hydrated. At the same time, they might not be such a great choice of a pre-workout meal.

Some smoothies have lot of sugar and are high in calories depending on its content. It is preferable to make your own smoothies at home because you are aware of what is in it.

Fast foods

Most fast foods contain high levels of sugar, sodium and fats. Eating fast foods like French fries, doughnuts, and fried chicken wings before a work out session, will leave you feeling full. This will hinder effective performance. Studies show that they are also linked to rapid weight gain.

Sodas and energy drinks

Sodas and energy drinks contain a lot of sugar and artificial additives. Avoid consuming chemicals that can raise your heart rate. Opt instead for natural homemade smoothies.

 

What foods can ruin your abs?

It doesn’t suffice that you eat, ensure that you incorporate healthy meals into your diet. Avoid certain foods which may harm your health and hinder you from achieving your fitness goals.

Here are a few foods that you should avoid or cut out completely if you want a killer abs.

Fried food

Fried foods like deep fried chicken and French fries aren’t high in sodium. They also contain trans fat which can cause heart diseases. If you are trying to get abs and improve your health then you should definitely avoid fried foods.

Alcohol

Studies suggest that excess belly fat is associated with excessive alcohol consumption. This is because of its high sugar content and additives.

If you are aiming to get those killer abs, completely cutting out alcohol from your diet will go a long way.

Sweet snacks

Sweet snacks are often high in sugar, sodium and other additives. Some of these ingredients increase belly fat. You might consider giving up on those sweet snacks if you want abs.

If you have a sweet tooth, you can substitute snacks with slices of fruit like apples or pears.

Refined grains.

Another food to avoid if you want fantastic abs is refined grains. Due to extreme processing, refined grains have lost most of its nutrients. Examples of refined grains are pasta, bread and white rice. An amazing alternative to this is whole grains which aid in belly fat reduction.

Sugary drinks

Sweetened drinks are an awful choice for a drink if you want to achieve abs. Drinks like sodas or energy drinks often contain a lot of sugar and are high in calories.

If you want to build muscle and get those awesome abs, eat a lot of bananas. Bananas are rich in potassium and fiber. You can have a banana as a snack between meals.

 

What is a good pre-workout snack?

pre-workout snack

A pre-workout snack should always contain carbohydrates and protein. Below are a few pre-workout snacks you can have:

A granola bar: This contains a high amount of protein and carbohydrate to fuel you.

Rice cakes with peanut butter: These two are also great sources of carbohydrates and protein.

Peanut butter on apple: This combo is also a great source of carbohydrates and protein.

Energy bars:
Energy bars will provide you with energy because they contain a lot of carbohydrates. Don’t eat too many energy bars because some are packed with a lot of calories and sweeteners.

Dried fruits: This is an excellent choice for a pre-workout snack. Like fresh fruits, dried fruits are rich in vitamins and carbohydrates that easily convert to energy. You can have a handful before a workout session.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you eat boiled eggs as a pre-workout snack?

Yes! Eggs are an excellent pre-workout snack. Eggs are totally fine to eat before a workout because they give your body all essential amino acids.

If you are working on a calorie deficit, a soft boiled egg will be a great snack. This is because it contains very low calories.

Avoid hard-boiled eggs before a workout because they are not the easiest thing to digest. Opt for soft boiled or scrambled eggs.

 

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