For athletes, good nutrition is always important. However, healthy eating plays its most vital role before training sessions. Pre-workout meals can make or break you. Eat junk and you'll perform badly. Eat well and you'll see results.
You know the importance of a high-protein diet in general, but what about pre-workout? If you don't eat enough protein, your recovery and strength will suffer. Protein's main roles are to repair damaged muscles, build new tissue and regulate your metabolic rate. When you train, muscle fibers break down by developing micro-tears. Since the damaged tissue grows back bigger and stronger, the process is essential for building muscle.
You only need around 20 to 30 grams of protein pre-workout. Excellent choices are fast-digesting sources like whey protein, chicken breast or lean beef. Alternatively, you could take in some branched chain amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Since they're already broken down, they travel to the muscles more quickly than other protein sources. Ten grams of a BCAA product can speed up protein synthesis, kick-starting the recovery process before your workout even begins.
Carbs are your main energy provider. The amount and type of carbs you eat before training depends on what activity you're doing. For example, if you're taking part in an endurance activity, you'll be burning more calories and need more energy. So you should load up on between 80 and 100 grams of carbs one to two hours before training. And they should be from a slow digesting, high fiber source like brown rice, whole-wheat pasta or sweet potato.
When your session is focused on weights and strength, a smaller portion of faster digesting carbs is optimal. Aim for 30 to 40 grams. Ideal meals are a piece of fruit, a few rice cakes or a serving of carb powder or energy drink.
For years, bodybuilders and athletes strictly abstained from fats in their pre-workout meals, believing that fats slow digestion and nutrient uptake. However, fat is now recognized as an important part of pre-training fuel. While it may not digest as quickly as carbohydrate, fat is a great provider of energy. Why? Because one gram provides nine calories.
Have 10 to 15 grams of fat pre-workout by choosing a fattier protein source, like a chicken or turkey thigh instead of a breast, or salmon instead of tuna or beef. You could also add a serving of fat by snacking on nuts, avocado, peanut butter or olive oil. Another good choice is coconut oil. The fats in coconut oil are MCTs (Medium Chain Triglycerides), which digest more quickly than other fats, giving you that energy boost sooner.
Eating healthy doesn't mean plates of dry pasta, flavorless chicken breast, brown rice and broccoli. Try making up a chili, curry or casserole to combine all three macronutrients. Or, if you're in a rush, make a smoothie with protein powder, milk, oats, fruit and peanut butter for a perfect on-the-go pre-workout fuel.
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