What to eat before a workout to build muscle and get pumped? Should you focus more on carbs, fat, or protein? There is no one-size-fits-all approach to pre-workout nutrition. What works for your gym buddy might not work for you. However, a combination of slow digesting carbs and protein seems to work best for most people.
The benefits of pre-workout nutrition should not be underestimated. A well-balanced meal will boost your energy and strength, prevent muscle loss, and enhance your overall performance. The foods you eat before training can make or break your progress. Let’s see what to eat before a workout for muscle and strength gains:
Should You Eat Before Working Out?
Pre-workout nutrition is a key factor in bodybuilding, fitness, and endurance sports. Whether you want to lose fat, build muscle, or maximize your workout, it’s important to eat properly a few hours before hitting the gym. Depending on your goals, you can opt for a protein-rich snack or a quick meal containing both complex carbs and protein.
In general, it’s recommended to eat protein and slow digesting carbs before working out. Protein will fuel your muscles and prevent catabolism. The carbs will provide a steady source of energy with no crashes. Avoid fats pre-workout.
If you’re short on time, have a protein shake or a protein bar. The right foods will speed up your gains and strength, protect your hard earned muscles, and bring you one step closer to your goals.
What about those who work out in the morning on an empty stomach to lose fat?
Well, there’s a lot of controversy about the best pre-workout meal in the morning. When you don’t eat for over six hours, your glycogen levels decrease. As a result, your body will use stored fat rather than carbohydrates for fuel. While this is true, there are better ways to lose fat without compromising your workouts.
Research indicates that the consumption of carbs before exercise will cause your body to burn more fat post workout. You may have already heard that strength training increases metabolism. The same goes for high intensity interval training. However, this approach doesn’t work for everyone.
If you had a carb-rich meal at bedtime, your muscles will be loaded with glycogen in the morning, so catabolism shouldn’t be an issue. Many bodybuilders train in a fasted state claiming that they have more energy when their body is not working to digest food. Some only have a cup of coffee, a protein shake, or BCAAs pre-workout. Others go one step further, using intermittent fasting as a way to shed fat and break through weight loss plateaus.
Do You Really Need Carbs Before Working Out?
Carbohydrates are the body’s main source of fuel. When you don’t eat enough carbs, your body will use protein for energy. If you’re on a ketogenic diet or eat less than 30-40 grams of carbs a day, your body will use stored fat for fuel. It all comes down to your goals. Endurance athletes and bodybuilders have higher nutritional requirements than the average fitness buff. However, they can benefit from intermittent fasting, ketogenic diets, and low carb diets when cutting.
When it comes to pre-workout nutrition, it’s important to try different strategies. For example, if you’re fatigued and lack energy, add more carbs to your pre workout meal. If you want to shed fat and build lean muscle, reduce your carb intake and consume more protein. Use intermittent fasting once in a while. Each of these strategies has pros and cons. Try to find out which one works best for you.
Why Is Pre-Workout Nutrition Important?
Pre-workout nutrition plays a key role in muscle growth and repair. Eating the wrong foods can ruin your workout and comprise your gains. Keep in mind that your daily calorie and nutrient intake are the most important aspects. The foods you consume before exercise should fit into your daily macros. Whether you eat more protein or carbs, make smart food choices that support your goals.
Eating the right foods can take your workout to a whole new level. Here are the benefits:
• More energy during workouts
• Greater muscle gains
• Increased strength and endurance
• Fat loss
• Enhanced performance
• Improved mental focus
• Reduce muscle loss
• Keep your body in an anabolic state
• Speed up recovery time
• Maximize your muscle building efforts
• Get a more intense workout
• Reduce muscle glycogen depletion.
It’s no doubt that pre-workout nutrition is vital to your overall performance. The right foods can maximize your strength potential and help you get the most out of your training routine.
What to Eat for Optimal Performance?
Your pre-workout meals should include quality protein and carbohydrate-rich foods that provide lasting energy. Plan your meals based on the time of day when you work out. Take your protein from quality sources such as Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, chicken and turkey, eggs, whey, and fish.
Eat slow digesting carbs from oats, veggies, quinoa, brown rice, and sweet potatoes. Avoid high glycemic carbs such as those in sweets, fruit, honey, and bread. If you have a sensitive stomach, do not eat right before working out. Wait three to four hours after your last meal before going to the gym.