There are many different believes and opinions when we talk about foods we ”should” be eating, but especially when it comes to pre or post-workout nutrition. When it comes to working out and food, everybody is an expert all of sudden. Just because, your nutrition mixes well with your way of training and the rest of your life does not guarentee that its going to for somebody else. This is why there are nutrition experts and coaches. In this blog I just want to share my view on the matter and talk from a neutral point of view. Keep in mind here, everything I am talking about is based on the general population, so this might be (slightly) different to you. Let’s dive into the main nutrients first so you can make educated decisions based on your own lifestyle and workout regime.
First of all, why do we have to put some meals in the category of ”pre workout food”? Why can it not be just a meal throughout the day that happens to fuel your workout as well? Generally speaking, it’s far, far more imporant what you fuel your body with afterwards, your body has enough energy stored to get you through a workout even if you don’t eat right before the effort.
The first things we have to consider and think about when talking about pre-workout are: what time of day are you working out, how many hours until your training session and what type of training are you doing? These 3 factors are of great importance when I advice someone about what foods to eat before a workout. I can tell you already that if you’re doing a regular workout early in the morning (4AM-8AM) you generally don’t have to eat because your body will have plenty of energy stored away for you.
If you’re someone who works out daily basis, you want to construct any and all meals around your protein sources, because that’s the most imporant nutrient when trying to recover properly and fast. Protein should influence your pre-workout food because it will help you recover between sets/workouts and reduce fatigue in your workouts. I always recommend taking at least 30 minutes between a meal or snack and working out so that’s no different with a protein heavy snack/meal. However, protein takes less time to digest than fats and it has less of an impact on your bloodsugar levels than carbohydrates, so you’re pretty safe consuming it fairly close to your actual workout time.
As some of you may know (if you have followed the blogs) I am a big believer in consuming more fats than is generally advertised. When it comes to pre-workout nutrition this is no different. When it comes to fat based ”pre-workout meals” I don’t see it as pre-workout meal but rather another meal during the day that fuels my workout as well. Fat makes sure that our energy levels are balanced throughout the day and keep us from experiencing those ”energy crashes”. A steady level of energy is exactly what you want going into your ”every day” workout, so why would consuming fats before a workout be a bad thing? Like I said before, this is generally speaking, for some sports or fitness disciplines it might not be the best decision to eat a bunch of fat before doing that activity because it takes a while to digest. The time of digestion is an imporant factor when it comes to consuming fat in relation to the time of day you’re working out. If you eat a good portion of fatty foods right before a workout, you might experience that your body is still processing all of the nutrients. If you have plenty of time before (I’d recommend one hour or more) I would definitely recommend eating more fats before working out.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with consuming carbohydrates before working out if that works well or benefits you. The thing here is that people typically don’t try things for themselves and just go with what the majority of the people are doing. Carbohydrates might be the way to go for you, but fats might help you out a little bit more if the nutrition timing is on point.
Carbohydrates will give you energy, that’s a fact, it’s a good source to build up for long endurance events or even sprint style workouts. With energy consumption comes energy spikes and with those spikes comes negative energy spikes. Because carbohydrates and sugar have such a great impact on your bloodsugar level you might end up experiencing one of those negative spikes while working out, which is obviously not ideal. With carbohydrates it’s the same as fats, if you keep the intake and timing under control it can benefit you greatly.
- (greek) yoghurt (low-no sugar) with nuts, chia seeds, dark chocolate
- eggs scramble with bacon/ avocado/ salmon/ cheese
- salmon or tuna mixed with mayonaisse
- rice cakes with peanut butter or smashed avocado
- mixed nuts
- apple or banana with peanut butter
- low sugar protein bars
- low sugar cottage cheese with peanut butter and some fruit
- Keto smoothie, for example: milk, spinach, avocado, peanut butter, some berries
- yoghurt (still low sugar) with fruit (and nuts)
- apple or banana with peanut butter
- eggs on toast/bagel or wrap
- bagel with peanut butter and banana slices
- (overnight) oats mixed with protein powder, cinnamon and possibly some berries and nuts
- banana oats protein pancakes, check out the recipe here
- cottage cheese with fruit, protein powder and peanut butter or jam/jelly
- smoothie, for example: milk, spinach, banana, berries, protein powder
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