It is important to provide your body with the right nutrients before going to the gym. Not only will it maximise your performance, but also speed up muscle recovery. In addition to nutrients, it is important to remember that good hydration is essential for enhanced performance and water should always be consumed during exercise. It is also recommended to take sodium-containing beverages prior to exercise to promote fluid balance.
When to eat is just as important as what to eat before going to the gym and will depend on the intensity, type, and duration of your workout. Generally, it is recommended to eat a full meal at least 2 – 3 hours before going to the gym. If this is not possible you should eat a light snack containing carbohydrates and protein (but not fat) at least 30 minutes prior to going to the gym.
The right nutrients will provide your body with the strength and energy it will need to perform better. Each macronutrient has a specific role to play in nutrition and the ratio at which they should be consumed will vary according to the intensity of the exercises performed. There are 3 main macronutrients that a nutritious, pre-workout meal should contain – protein, carbohydrates, and fat.
The body needs glucose from carbs to fuel your muscles during a workout. Glucose is processed and stored in the form of glycogen, mainly in the muscles and the liver. Your muscles are the main source of glycogen for short, high-intensity exercise. The degree to which glycogen is used during longer exercise will depend on several factors including type, intensity and overall diet. Glycogen stores in the body are limited and when these become depleted it will diminish the output and intensity of your workout.
Studies have consistently shown that the intake of carbohydrates before exercise increases glycogen stores, enhances the utilisation of glycogen, and boosts carbohydrate oxidisation during a workout. A well-known method of maximising glycogen stores is ‘carb-loading‘ that involves consuming a high-carb diet for a period of a week.
Many documented studies have shown that consuming protein prior to exercise increases muscle protein synthesis. Benefits include better muscle growth, increased muscle performance, better recovery, and increased strength.
Also read: Protein-Rich Foods That You Must Include In Your Diet
Fat is the source of fuel for longer, low- to moderate-intensity exercise. Increased fat in the diets of healthy, trained athletes showed increased endurance and running times.
Some Pre-Workout Meal Examples
- Chicken, rice, and steamed vegetables combine complex carbohydrates with protein, fibre, and healthy fats.
- Whole Wheat sandwich with almond or peanut butter and sliced banana is packed with natural sugars, simple carbs, fat, and potassium, the electrolyte that prevents muscle cramps and is easily lost through sweating.
- Protein powder smoothie with almond milk, banana, spinach, and mixed berries.
- Scrambled eggs on toast with avocado and lettuce is a nutrient-rich powerhouse.
If you are struggling with choosing the right food for your diet, it is best to get in touch with experts who will help devise a Personalised Nutrition Plan for you. Get in touch with Transition Personal Training for more advise.