Exercise beginners have been offered a checklist detailing what they should always aim to consume when it comes to pre-workout nutrition. Experts at health and fitness site have revealed the food types to include in a pre-exercise meal, as well as tips regarding proper hydration and digestion.
Fuelling your body with the correct nutrients prior to exercise will give you the energy and strength you need to perform at your best.
Exercising on an empty stomach is generally not advisable, as you’ll lack the energy you need from carbohydrates to achieve your peak performance.
As well as handling pre-workout nutrition correctly, you should try to keep the portion size appropriate to your fitness goals.
A spokesperson for said: “What you eat before a workout is incredibly important. Look at your body as you would any other machine, like a car for example. You wouldn’t attempt a non-stop 100-mile journey with just 20-miles in the tank, would you?
“Failing to do so can make you dizzy, lightheaded, nauseated or lethargic, and it can also make you more likely to injure yourself.
“Similarly, re-fuelling after exercise gives your body what it needs to recover from the exertion and build bigger, stronger muscles.
“If you’re mindful of what you eat before and after exercising, this will maximise the benefits of all your hard work at the gym, so try and tick off each of these six points.”
Carbs = energy. When we eat them, they break down into glucose, enter our muscle cells, and give us fuel to exercise at our maximum capacity. If you’re strapped for glucose during your workout, you’ll likely feel weak, tired, and tempted to call it quits.
When we do strength training exercises, like weight lifting, we create small tears in our muscle fibres. When you rest, your body repairs those microtears, building up your muscles bigger and stronger than they were before—and it needs protein to do so. But that doesn’t mean you want to devour a huge burger before a workout. Instead, go for sources of protein that are easily digestible, and don’t eat too much, so you don’t get an upset stomach halfway through.
3. Acetylcholine and high dopamine
Every state of mind and emotion is mirrored by a chemical. During most training sessions focus and drive are the name of the game, which means you want high acetylcholine and dopamine levels. The best foods to achieve this are red meat and nuts. Eggs, even though they are high in acetylcholine supporting nutrients, digest rather quickly so might not be the best option.
The amount of fat you choose to consume before you exercise is highly dependent on when you’re eating and your type of workout. Fat takes longer to digest than carbs and protein, so fat provides a longer stream of energy. If you’re eating a pre-workout meal at least two hours before a workout, you’ll likely want to include some source of fat. That’s also the case if you’ll be exercising at a moderate-to-low intensity for an extended period of time (i.e. walking, hiking, biking for 1-3 hours).
Whatever you eat before a workout, you need to give your body enough time to digest it before exerting yourself. The ideal time to eat is between 30 minutes to three hours before your workout. That way you’re not still digesting when you hit the gym floor, but you haven’t gone and used up all those helpful calories yet.
Obviously, your body should be hydrated all of the time, but it’s particularly important to make sure you’re hydrated before and during exercise. A good place to start is drinking about two cups of water 2-3 hours before exercise and one cup of water 10 to 20 minutes before working out. The goal here is to minimize dehydration – which can cause low energy and muscle cramps – without drinking too much.