Pre-Workout Food: Fuel Up The Right Way | STACK

Pre-Workout Food: Fuel Up The Right Way

July 25, 2012

Must See Nutrition Videos

Any activity that requires energy, whether a hard weightlifting session or a sports game, presents an opportunity for muscle gain and fat loss—but only if accompanied by good nutrition. You wouldn't put cheap gasoline in a Ferrari and expect it to run at full throttle. Similarly, you shouldn't short-change your performance with poor pre-workout food choices. To play at your peak from start to finish, you must give your body the fuel it needs to succeed.

An hour before exercise:

Eat a pre-workout meal consisting of protein, carbohydrates and a little healthy fat. The fat will slow insulin release for the carbs, giving you steady energy levels through your workout. A good choice is one cup of cooked oatmeal, sweetened with a teaspoon of coconut oil or almond butter, together with a serving of Greek yogurt. A protein shake is another good choice, but you may want to push it up to within 45 minutes of your training session, since whey protein gets absorbed fast.

Just as pre-workout nutrition should not be overlooked, neither should intra-workout nutrition. Weight training and intense cardiovascular exercise (like most sporting activities) are catabolic in nature—if your body is not getting the fuel it needs for energy production from food, it resorts to breaking down lean body mass. No one wants that. Make the most of your training by consuming a drink that combines fast-digesting protein with clean carbs and is light on your stomach. Your choices range from Gatorade to carb powders paired with an amino acid product such as BCAAs, EAAs or casein hydrolysate. All will induce protein synthesis without having to be broken down by the stomach first.

Since no one wants to get nauseous during exercise, avoid protein and carb choices that require the body to break them down into energy sources. BCAAs, EAAs and casein hydro are already in their most basic form and are quickly absorbed.

Learn more about fueling up for your workout and check out free recipes on STACK's Pre-Workout Guide.

Mitch Calvert
- Mitch Calvert, born and raised in Canada, chose a life of health and fitness eight years ago, transforming himself from a severely overweight teenager to...
Mitch Calvert
- Mitch Calvert, born and raised in Canada, chose a life of health and fitness eight years ago, transforming himself from a severely overweight teenager to...
More Cool Stuff You'll Like

The 6 Worst Foods for Athletes

Tips for Healthy Weight Gain

5 Protein-Packed Recovery Shakes

Load Up on These Foods at Your Backyard Barbecue

Spice Up Your Healthy Cooking With These Lively Combos

The Healthiest (And Unhealthiest) Ways to Eat Chicken

Living Near Fast Food Could Increase Your Odds of Obesity

5 Foods That Are Stunningly High in Sodium

7 Foods That Are Ruining Your Workouts

5 Ways to Fuel Your Early Morning Workout

STUDY: Eat More Fruits and Veggies, Live (Almost) Forever

5 Ways Junk Food Can Mess With Your Head

The Cheat Meal Day: Why It's Not So Smart

5 'Healthy' Side Dishes That Are Worse Than French Fries

Why You Need Dietary Fiber

The Case for Red Meat

You Should Eat the Peel of These 12 Fruits and Vegetables

How to Deal With Your Sugar Cravings

Foods for Athletes: Top Trends for 2014

5 Non-Boring Ways To Eat Chicken

5 Delicious Ways to Make Junk Food Less Junky

Healthy Makeovers for 3 Classic Meals

4 'Bad Foods' That Might be Good for You

Terrible Toppings: The 5 Worst Things We Put on Food

5 Nutritional Power Combos for Athletes

Where the Paleo Diet Falls Short

How to Eat Organic Without Breaking the Bank

Fuel Up Fast With 4 Smoothies From the New York Giants

The Boston Cannons'

Diet Changes: 5 Tips to Help You Stick to Your Plan

The Best Foods for Digestive Health

A Sneaky Food Additive Athletes Should Avoid

Brown Rice vs. White Rice: Does It Really Matter?

How Undereating Can Make You Gain Weight

5 'Good Foods' That Might Be Bad for You

Salad Showdown: Which Greens Are the Healthiest?

11 Food Services That Deliver Ready-Made Nutritious Meals

3 Nutrition Mistakes Endurance Athletes Make and How to Fix Them

Vegetarian Athlete Tips: Olympic Swimmer Kate Ziegler

9 Athlete-Approved Peanut Butter Sandwiches

6 Eating Mistakes That Undo Your Workouts

5 Healthy Foods That Got a Bad Rap

Are You Eating Too Much Protein?

3 Fruits and 3 Vegetables Athletes Must Eat

How Friends and Family Affect Your Food Choices

12 Foods Every Athlete Should Eat

Healthy (and Unhealthy) BBQ Ideas For Athletes

10 Easy Ways to Eat Real Food