The difference between a good workout and a mediocre one can sometimes be decided hours before you actually hit the gym. What is the deciding factor? Why food of course! Without the proper fuel in your body how can you expect to operate at a peak level of performance?
Intensity and grit can only take you so far when there is no gas in the tank.
So what goes into a great pre-workout snack?
- Around 200 to 400 calories (smaller people or shorter training session need fewer calories)
- High in complex carbs (at least 25 grams, more for endurance workouts)
- Medium level of protein (at least 15 grams)
- Low in sugar
- Low in fat
- Low in fiber
Great Snack Ideas:
- Tuna and Crackers – Take 1.5 ounces of tuna with a tablespoon of fat free mayo and whip it together. Spread it on whole wheat crackers.
- Protein Shake – A scoop of whey powder blended in with milk and a banana will get you everything you need.
- Chicken Sandwich – Use 2 or 3 ounces of deli sliced chicken breast on whole wheat bread with fat free mayo.
- Oats and Eggs – Have 1 cup of oatmeal with 3 scrambled egg whites.
- Yogurt and Fruit – Mix 8 ounces of fat free plain yogurt with the fresh fruit of your choice.
- PB with no J – Spread a few tablespoons of low fat peanut butter on two slices of whole wheat bread or toast.
- Cottage Cheese – Take 8 ounces of low fat cottage cheese and pour some honey on top for flavor.
When to eat
Ideally you want to consume your food about one to one -and-a-half hours before you train. Having the right nutrients in your body not only helps with workout strength and endurance but also gives your body a boost in recovery. For people who are just training for muscle try and increase the protein count a little while endurance athletes who are training harder and longer with cardio might want to double the amount of carbohydrates from 25 grams to 50 grams.
Along with the meal you should try and drink at least 8 ounces of water and take any pre-workout supplements. Many supplements absorb more easily when food is present in the system so it is a handy two-for-one scenario.
Try to avoid eating too much food before a workout. The portions listed here are adequate to meet most people’s needs. More food means longer digestion which equates more blood in the stomach working and less available for your workout. Plus you have that full feeling which can make it hard to workout too strenuously.