This article is going to discuss what you should be putting in your mouth before a weightlifting/high intensity workout.
Your body needs energy to fuel itself through the fun which is to come, so you MUST EAT before you lift weights.
HOW LONG BEFORE?
Use a general guideline of 30min – 2hours. It really depends on your stomach. Some feel ill if they eat too close to a workout although anything over two hours there’s probably not enough energy/blood sugar in your system to fuel you adequately. PLUS, without the right fuel in your system you will actually burn fewer calories and less fat than if you had eaten. DOUBLE PLUS, if you don’t have proper energy in your body to fuel anaerobic activity your body will actually break down your muscle to create energy to build muscle. Sound counterproductive?
I usually eat 45min before a workout.
WHAT TO EAT?
Resistance training breaks down muscle protein. Protein before exercise increases muscle protein synthesis and encourages increased muscle growth.
WHEY PROTEIN: Great pre-workout choice. Very fast digesting and can be taken as little as 30min before a workout.
I don’t do this for two reasons: 1. Whey protein does not supply the essential vitamins and minerals that other protein sources supply. That being said, because of my job, I’m stuck drinking protein shakes 3+ times a day. I never want my shake meals to exceed my whole food meals. I eat seven times a day. Another shake would put my over my limit.
2. I don’t feel full or energetic from a protein shake meal. I feel empty, and not in the mood to workout.
Verdict: Go for it! If you’re not getting that many shakes throughout the day and it’s a quick and convenient substitute, it works just great! For me, it’s not right.
EGGS AND FISH: Great choices as well. The proteins in these tend to be digested quicker than chicken and beef. They’re light on your stomach, plus the fish contains omega 3 fatty acids which help fight fatigue and improve circulation – both of which would benefit you while training.
Verdict: Go for it! Another great choice. Not right for me because eggs and fish are too light on my stomach. I need something hearty.
CHICKEN AND BEEF: Longer digesting than the above so advised to workout one-two hours after consuming. My favorite choice and I do just fine eating 45min before my workout. The saturated fat in burgers or steak gives me some extra energy to plow through my workouts (Don’t eat red meat too often due to the high fat content in most cuts)and the chicken is hearty enough that I feel satiated and full of enough energy to tackle what’s to come.
Verdict: My favorite. I usually eat pulled chicken or 93percent fat free burgers before every workout UNLESS I workout first thing in the morning and that’s only because I can’t stomach chicken at 6am.
Weightlifting requires carbohydrates for fuel. Carbohydrates are utilized during anaerobic activity which in turn prevents your body from tapping into muscle for energy.
Complex Carbohydrates: slower digesting fuel for prolonged energy during your workout (brown rice, sweet potatoes, Ezekiel bread, oatmeal)
Some of my favorites (Complex carbs are very easy to combine with your protein sources):
Chicken mixed with brown rice and Frank’s hot sauce
Chicken mixed with sweet potato French fries and ketchup
Oatmeal with Protein Powder mixed in
ALSO: Simple Carbohydrates: faster digesting immediate sources of energy (jelly, honey, fruit)
*Fruits are actually a mix of complex and simple carbs (although this can be debated as well) and are another can of worms that will be saved for another blog but for our purposes here, any fruit will suffice.
For more info on fruit check out: http://www.chrisrombolatraining.com/?p=459
I like adding a small amount of simple carbohydrates to my pre-workout meal for a nice jumpstart of energy.
Protein Shake + Ezekiel bread toast with jelly
Oatmeal mixed with honey, raisins, and protein powder
I tend to avoid fats pre-workout. Fats slow protein absorption and our goal is to get our pre-workout meal to our muscles ASAP. I only ingest trace fats pre-workout (any fat that is naturally found in my proteins and carbs).
This should be a good starting point to figuring out what’s the best pre-workout nutrition for YOU!
Next will be POST WORKOUT nutrition.