Before you step foot into the gym you may have doomed your workout depending on what you ate before you left your house. Your pre-workout meal can make or break you in training and if it’s not done right, your gains in the gym can be minimized. You’ll probably also feel sluggish and have a guaranteed “off day” in the gym. In order to prevent this from happening here are a few tips you should consider next time before you hit the weights.
Let’s Get Things Straight
The general consensus in the fitness world is that a greater emphasis is placed on what you eat after your workout rather than what you eat before a workout. But let me pose a question to you: Is it smarter to have preventative maintenance done on your car or only take it when a problem occurs with it? The same thing applies to your pre-workout nutrition. Most people have your post-workout nutrition down. But shoring up before AND after will yield way better results than focusing on one over the other. The bottom line is if your before is lagging, you are depleting your muscle fibers by not stimulating them to their limits where they will form new scar tissue and muscle.
This meal should be consumed about 1-2 hours before you are training and consist of a clean, slow-digesting carb, a fruit, and a good source of protein. Now I realize sometimes training can be sporadic and you don’t get to hit the gym when you want, but try to keep some sort of a schedule so you can properly fuel up and make optimal gains.
The right kinds of carbohydrates are key when fueling up for a workout. It’s a great source of energy and prevents the body from going to the muscles for energy. A slow digesting carb will last you the entirety of the workout. When figuring which carbs to include in your meal, rice, whole grain pasta, or wheat/multi grain breads are great options. Your body needs sufficient time to digest and process what you eat, so don’t overdo it when it comes to meal time. As a rule of thumb, you should consume 20-40 grams of carbs 1-2 hours before your workout.
Another portion to be included in that pre-workout meal is fruit. These will contain your fast-digesting carbs that your body will use immediately and will help spike your insulin levels to give a jump start to your workout. One piece of fruit will do and apples, oranges, and bananas are all excellent options.
The last portion of the meal and most important is protein. Protein is the cornerstone of building muscle and contains essential and nonessential amino acids necessary to build and repair muscle. In order to ensure that you get all the nutrients you need from protein, you need to consume complete protein sources such as eggs, chicken, turkey, fish, and milk. Another option is to grab yourself a protein shake. These are guaranteed to have a balance of the nutrients you need and are very convenient if you have a hectic lifestyle. You should consume 20-40 grams of protein 1-2 hours before your workout.
Proper nutrition before a workout is often overlooked and not given the consideration it should be. 1-2 hours before your workout consume the proper balance of carbs and protein, and you should have a great workout that helps you build muscle better and faster.