A healthy diet and a regular exercise routine are keys to a long life.
Not only is what you eat important for your overall health but also the type of foods you eat and when you eat them can greatly impact your lifestyle.
For example, your pre-workout meal or snack can be a determining factor in the efficiency and effectiveness of your workout.
Many people decide to exercise early in the day before meals but your body uses food for fuel so you should not attempt a workout on an empty stomach.
But timing is everything and so the closer you get to your workout, the lighter and easier to digest should be the foods you choose.
No matter the timing, you should avoid fried or spicy foods, those high in fat or fiber and anything carbonated. These foods make the digestive system demand an increased amount of the body’s energy in order to function which diverts energy from your workout.
It makes sense that if there are foods to avoid then there should be foods that are recommended as pre-workout meals or snacks.
Actually, any food that is classified as a complex carbohydrate or is high in protein would be beneficial. But there are some specific foods in each of these categories that are the best for improving your workout.
The following are 6 foods that you should add to your pre-workout diet.
Proteins help your body improve its performance over the course of your physical activity. It also supports muscle building and maintenance and helps the muscles recover more quickly between workouts.
Protein contributes to the smooth functioning of all the body’s systems and promotes efficiency not only on a muscular level but on a cellular level as well.
#1 – Lean Beef and Chicken
Any pre-workout meal should contain one of these food products. They contain high levels of protein and just enough good fats to give the body exactly what it needs during exertion.
#2 – Eggs
These are great as part of a meal or as a snack. One hard boiled egg is as rich in protein as some entire meals so it supports the muscles as they endure stress during any intense physical activity.
#3– Greek Yogurt
This yogurt is a good source of carbohydrates but an even better source of protein. It is an easily digested carb so it quickly boosts your energy and its protein level is high enough to prevent any muscle breakdown during intense periods.
Bonus – Cottage Cheese
This is a source of slow digesting protein which is good for muscle maintenance throughout the entire length of your workout.
As already mentioned, muscles use the sugar or glucose from carbohydrates as energy to fuel your workout. If you eat simple carbs, you get an energy rush but a quick crash and it will be difficult to exercise effectively. But complex carbs allow you to have a sufficient amount of energy to enjoy a prolonged session of activity.
#4 – Oats and Oatmeal
The carbohydrates from oats are gradually released into the bloodstream so that the energy flow is constant. Oatmeal becomes a perfectly balanced pre-workout snack when you add nuts and protein powder.
You can even mix in a simple carb like a banana to get a kick start.
#5 – Whole Grains
These come in many forms like breads, cereal, pasta, or brown rice. Each is a complex carbohydrate that helps the body stay fueled over prolonged exercise sessions.
The only caution is that grains should be consumed at least a few hours before any workout because they can be difficult to digest.
#6 – Fruits and Vegetables
Almost any choice from these food groups will provide the energy you need but they are doubly beneficial because they contain multiple nutrients and antioxidants to boost your immune system.
The one caution is that if you choose the more high fiber fruits like apples and pears, you should eat them hours before your workout because they can make digestion more difficult.
Bonus – Energy Supplements
Many different types of pre-workout energy supplements are designed to improve your level of motivation and your physical energy. They provide an advantage because they give you an initial boost that helps you begin your workout and maintain your routine longer.
A regular exercise regimen is of great benefit but maintaining a routine does not happen by accident.
You must prepare your body to execute the workout and a large part of that preparation is the pre-workout meal or snack.
There are certainly many options and you should experiment until you find which foods work for you. It can be as simple as the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that are now a pre-game staple of many NBA players who are looking for a well-balanced snack.
But it is time to start your own tradition.
Try your favorite food from each category and you will notice that you will work longer and harder but enjoy it more.