If you're looking for tips on a solid pre-workout meal for better performance, look no further.
So what's the purpose of a pre-workout meal? A good pre-workout meal provides you with energy for your workouts, helps you maintain your muscle, and can even boost your muscle growth. It can be essential to ensuring you're making the most of your workout. If you are dieting to lose body fat, your energy levels will likely be lower due to decreased carb intake. This makes pre-workout meals even more crucial to help you maintain your workout intensity despite your lower energy levels and fewer calories.
It can be tempting to want to work out on an empty stomach. You may be thinking you don't want to feel too full, or sluggish. However, depending on your goals, the effects can be disastrous to your workout. When your stomach is empty prior to working out you put yourself at risk for low blood sugar. Low blood sugar combined with exercise activities can be dangerous if you begin feeling dizzy and fatigued. You don't want to be in the middle of a squat and have a brain malfunction.
Pre Workout Meal Benefits
There's plenty of benefits to pre-workout. The most obvious being more energy for your workouts, but there's also muscle retention and growth benefits as well. Protein and carbohydrates play a crucial role in muscle growth and retention. During an intense workout, your body enters a catabolic state where your muscle fibers are broken down. Consuming protein and carbs before your workout assists with protein synthesis and can even spur muscle growth.
So when you're looking for a good pre-workout meal, remember you need a combination of complex carbs and lean protein sources. You want the meal to be enough to get you through your workout but not so much that you feel tired or sluggish. Also, if you are dieting to lose body fat, remember that your pre-workout meal should be included in your macro diet for the day. It is not a bonus meal. For your convenience, my macronutrient calculator will break your calories and macro goals down into meals, which can make it easier for you to plan for your pre-workout meal.
Pre Workout Meal Options
Here are some great pre-workout food options of slow digesting carbs and lean proteins sources to mix and match:
Protein powders and milk
Oatmeal and berries
Pre Workout Meal Timing
Now that we've covered the pre-workout meal itself, let's talk about the most effective time-frame to eat it. Try to eat your meal within 2 hours of your workout. Focus on giving your food enough time to begin digesting.
Is Coffee A Good Pre Workout?
A cup of black coffee can be a highly effective added boost of energy. Coffee's natural caffeine properties, coupled with how easy it is to get, and being zero calories make it a wonderful pre-workout option. But the benefits continue, Scientists at The University of Illinois found that consuming 2-3 cups of coffee before a workout reduced perceived muscle pain. A study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology explained that caffeine combined with a high carb pre workout meal resulted in a 66% increase of glycogen stores for better endurance. Make sure the coffee is black, with no added creams or sugars to avoid added fat and calories.
If you're already an avid coffee drinker you'll find a cup before your workout will do nothing for you. I recommend you take a look at some high-quality pre workout powders that are delicious and can be added to your water for an extra jolt of energy. My personal favorite options are available on Amazon and are by Neon Sport. They come in a variety of flavors ranging from watermelon to lemon berry, and did I mention they're delicious?