Are your workouts feeling a little flat? Struggling to hit the numbers you hit last week? Are your energy levels falling faster than a soccer player with a drinking problem? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you might want to start looking at the foods you’re eating, or not eating, in the hours before your training session. To help you out, I’m going to show you a few simple (yet important) concepts that will teach you how to design meals specifically catered to your needs and in the end will successfully fuel your workouts.
Fuel Your Workouts: Different Goals Require Different Substances
I want you to imagine you’re in your car on the way to a gas station. Your best friend is also in their car headed toward the same gas station. You plan to drive across town to the beach and update your Instagram with that new inspirational quote you found online, while your BFF has to go to work and only needs to travel a short distance. Would it be safe to say you and your BFF have the same gas requirements? Of course, it isn’t.
Considering your goals, workout duration and intensity is important when choosing the best fuel. For example, you may want to check out the differences between each of these training goals:
Which Foods to Eat and Which to Avoid
Your meals should be a balance of high-quality proteins, healthy fats, and carbohydrates. Make sure your carbs are sourced from vegetables, fruits, and starchy tubers – don’t believe the Instagram heroes who post donut pictures claiming they fit their macronutrient needs – IT’S A TRAP!
Not only should your ingredients be healthy and nutritious, but they also need to be foods you can tolerate. You know your body, so avoid eating anything that will cause bloating or irritation, as this will drastically reduce the effectiveness and enjoyment of your workouts.
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The Real Secret to Your Pre-Workout Meal is Your Pre-Pre-Workout Meal
Yes, you read that correctly! The most important part of your pre-workout meal is the meal you eat before it.
There’s a common misconception that you need to eat like a Viking right before you set out for battle. Although, your body isn’t able to use the fuel gained from a nutrient-dense meal immediately. Your body needs time to digest this food. If you eat too many calories an hour or so before your workout, you will no doubt feel sluggish, uncomfortable and quickly run out of gas.
As you exercise, your body sends oxygenated blood to the working muscles. If you’re still digesting a heavy meal while you workout, your digestive organs will compete with your skeletal muscles for the supply of beneficial blood flow.
The trick to correctly being able to fuel your workouts is, to eat a balanced meal of high-quality protein, moderate complex carbs and healthy fats, followed later by a lower calorie snack closer to your workout.
Here’s an example of what has worked for me in the past:
Pre-Pre-Workout Meal – 4 to 5 hours before workout:
An omelet of 2 Eggs, potato, spinach and beets with a little avocado and tomato on top.
Pre-Workout Meal – 1 to 1.5 hours before workout:
½ scoop of whey, water, ½ a serve of almonds, ½ a cup of blueberries and half a banana mixed in a bowl.