Everyone wants to train harder, gain muscles, or get back to shape. While this is laudable, most people forget that just like in any other undertaking, preparation is critical when it comes to workouts.
By preparation, we don’t only mean mental or psychological preparedness; we also mean putting your body in the right physical state for the undertaking.
Remember that working out needs energy which must be fueled by the use of the right nutrients. Also, note that each pre-workout nutrient plays a specific role in the body. However, the amount to be consumed depends on the type of workout as well as the individual in question.
Where To Get Energy?
Of course, energy is paramount for any workout exercise.
Although some people exercise while fasting in order to lose weight, it is crucial to understand that this may interfere with your performance.
The amount of energy you need will depend on the type and length of your workout. For instance, the amount of energy required for 1-hour, high-intensity workout will be different from that of a low-intensity, 30-minutes workout.
You should, therefore, aim at consuming calories enough to take you through the workout session. For longer workouts, you might be required to refuel at some point during the exercise.
For Energy, Carbs Are King!
We are sure you have come across many drinks, gels, and blocks that contain nothing else but sugar. You might also have seen your favorite athlete take a sip from a bottle full of sugary drinks. The reason why professional athletes use sugary drinks is that carbs are the main source of energy for the body.
Although fats and proteins can also fuel your body, the truth is while it may take ages to digest and break them down, it only takes a few minutes for the body to digest carbs.
What happens during exercise is that your body will first utilize the simple carbohydrates in your blood (sugar/glucose). After that is used up, your body now goes to glycogen (stored long-term carbohydrates). It is only after these have been fully utilised that your body will try to burn protein and fat for energy.
You should, therefore, limit your intake of fiber, fat, and protein in your pre-workout plan and increase the consumption of high-glycemic carbs found in grains, fruits, etc.
Micronutrients and Water Are Important
Energy alone is not enough; you will also need micronutrients and adequate water. All the micronutrients are essential and play different roles.
For instance, while Vitamin B helps boost energy metabolism, Vitamin C will help develop healthy muscles and tendons. On the other hand, minerals such as magnesium and calcium will help strengthen your bones.
Water is necessary not only for the workout but also for the general well being of your body.
Water plays several roles in your pre-workout; it helps with the digestion of your pre-workout food and also helps boost blood circulation. Healthy blood circulation is essential as it helps supply crucial elements such as sugar, oxygen and other helpful nutrients to all the vital body organs.
You also need to sweat for your body to remain cool. Limiting your water intake may mean less fluid in your body and hence less sweating. According to research, dehydration may also interfere with your concentration. Concentration is crucial in some exercises, such as yoga and meditation.
Consider Using A Supplement
Other essential nutrients are the electrolytes. In fact, they are needed in higher concentrations than most other micronutrients.
Electrolytes such as potassium and sodium help with the contraction of your muscles. This means that the lack of adequate electrolytes may lead to muscle cramps.
You can consume these electrolytes by adding them to your workout meals. Most popular sports drinks have these electrolytes.
Best Pre-Workout Foods To Try
There are different workout foods that you can try depending on what you are trying to achieve. However, there are some foods that you can use for a general workout:
Oats are rich in fiber, and hence, they release carbs gradually. Because of this gradual release, it means that energy levels can be kept constant throughout the workout session. This means that you can exercise harder for an extended period.
Oats also contain vitamin B, which is essential for the conversion of carbohydrates into energy.
2. Whole Grain Bread
Whole grain bread is an excellent source of carbohydrates.
You can take your bread toasted, plain or as a part of a sandwich. You can also add jellies and jams to increase the calories. It is also advisable to add some low-fat turkey or hard-boiled eggs.
However, don’t be tempted to take too much butter as the fat may slow down the digestion process.
Caffeine plays many roles in the body. Apart from improving your performance, it can also increase your strength and power. It will also stimulate the breakdown of fats and help delay the onset of fatigue.
There are many ways of consuming caffeine; teas, coffees, and energy drinks. You can also go for caffeine-rich pre-workout pills and supplements.
Go for fruits such as strawberries, bananas, pineapples, and citrus since they are low in alcohol. Apart from adding too much gas in your body, sugar alcohol can also lead to laxity and bloating.
Nutrition is critical when it comes to workouts. However, it is not all about getting the right food combination; it is also about knowing the timing.
Typically, you should wait for at least 30-90 minutes after eating before jumping into your workout. This will give enough time for your body to digest and breakdown the food. It will also prevent you from feeling bloated.