It is important to fuel your body properly pre-workout to ensure that you perform optimally and make most out of your workout! There are a couple things to keep in mind when choosing your pre-workout foods.
1) The digestive times of different foods
2) The intensity and length of your planned workout
Different macronutrients digest at different rates. Carbohydrates digest the quickest; protein takes longer than carbs to digest and fats take the longest to digest.
Therefore, if you’re eating a smaller meal with mostly carbs and protein, it may require about 1-2 hours to digest; whereas, a larger meal with more protein and fats may take longer, around 3-4 hours to digest. Keeping this in mind can help you time your pre-workout meals accordingly.
Shorter High Intensity Workout – Eat Carbs & Protein
Shorter and higher intensity workouts, like HIIT or heavy weightlifting, are anaerobic exercises where your body mostly uses its fast-twitch muscles fibers. When doing this type of training, your body mainly uses its glycogen stores for energy – this comes from the carbs that we eat. Therefore, eating a higher carb meal before this type of training can be beneficial at helping you perform better. When eating a meal higher in carbs, keep your fats relatively lower to make sure the carbs are quickly absorbed into your system. Also pay attention to your fiber intake. While fiber is important for overall health, it does take longer to digest so it’s best not to over consume before a workout. Having some protein along with your carbs can help maintain or build muscle mass and improve recovery.
Sources of carbs can include fruit, oatmeal, sweet potato and rice.
Sources of protein can include a quality protein powder, organic meats, seafood, eggs and legumes.
Longer Low-Moderate Intensity Workout – Eat Fats
Longer, low-moderate intensity workouts, like long distance running, swimming or biking are aerobic exercises where your body mostly uses its slow-twitch muscle fibers. When doing this type of training, your body mainly uses fats for energy. Therefore, if you are an endurance athlete, it may be beneficial to consistently include more fats into your diet overall. Keep in mind that fats do take longer to digest, so you may want to wait a bit longer after consuming before exercising.
Sources of fats can include avocado, coconut oil, olive oil, nuts and seed, grass-fed butter and fatty fish.
Note that our bodies do not solely use one macronutrient for energy and usually uses a combination. For example, our glycogen stores are limited and once they are used up, our body may turn to burning fat for energy. Therefore, make sure you are not eliminating any whole macronutrient group completely as that can be detrimental to your health. Having a good balance of carbs, proteins and fats is essential to staying healthy.
Hope you learned how to fuel your next workout optimally! Get in touch with any of the awesome trainers at Crux Fitness for more nutritional guidance.