Irrespective of what many experts say leading a healthy lifestyle does involve some sacrifice. It takes dedication and commitment – ask anyone who has had to watch friends tuck into a fast-food burger while they pick at a salad. It also takes a commitment in terms of physical exercise. Those who are committed to enjoying the physical and mental benefits of a healthy body must be committed to regular workouts. However – the question is always top of mind – how do you get the most out of the hard work that you put in each time you hit the gym or engage in some other form of aerobic exercise? One of the most effective ways to ensure that your exercise remain is as effective as possible is to give your body the fuel it needs to get the most out of that workout – and that means pre-workout nutrition becomes an important part of the discipline that it takes to build a healthy body – and enjoy a great quality of life. Here are some hints and tips tom ensure that you have the energy for an effective workout – and that your body has the building blocks it needs to get achieve your workout goals.
Your body requires macronutrients in order to perform at its peak. The first of these is carbohydrates. Carbohydrate intake allows your body access to glucose in the form of Glycogen – that is the compound that the body uses to store glucose and process it. Glycogen is essential for high-intensity performance. However, Glycogen stores are depleted quickly and that affects performance – maintenance of those stores is essential.
Protein consumption is an essential component in any pre-workout meal. It has been shown to boost athletic performance. One study (from the University of Birmingham) showed a positive correlation between anabolic response and the consumption of 20 grams of whey protein prior to exercise. The benefits of consuming protein-rich foods before exercise include:
- Better anabolic response and muscle growth.
- Improved muscle recovery time.
- Increased strength and growth of lean body mass.
- Increased muscle performance.
While Glycogen is essential for performance during high intensity, low duration exercise fat fuels the body for longer bouts of exercise at a low to moderate level. However studies have focused on a fat rich diet over a longer duration, rather than immediately prior to a workout. An example would be in the improved performance of endurance runners.
The ideal pre-workout meal
Ideally your pre-workout meal should be consumed between two and three hours prior to your workout and should balance the intake of carbs, proteins and fats.
Some examples of meals.
If you have the opportunity to enjoy a meal 2 – 3 hours prior to your workout try these for maximum effect:
- A sandwich on whole-grain bread, with lean protein filling (chicken is a great option) and a side salad.
- Egg omelette and whole-grain toast topped with avocado spread and a cup of fresh fruit.
- Lean protein, brown rice and roasted vegetables.
If you plan on working out within two hours:
- Smoothie made with milk, high quality protein powder, banana and assorted berries.
- Oatmeal topped with banana and almonds.
Within one hour:
- Greek yogurt and fruit – or fresh fruit.
- Protein bar.
The key to a successful workout is planning. Make sure that your body has the fuel for peak performance. Mix and match. There are numerous online sources that provide nutritious meals that are ideal for pre-workout meals. So, fuel up – and enjoy a great exercise experience.