Why You Should Avoid a Protein Pre-Workout Meal | STACK

Why Athletes Should Avoid a Protein-Focused Pre-Workout Meal

January 27, 2013 | Chris Costa

Must See Nutrition Videos

Health experts argue about nutrition topics endlessly. However, one thing they tend to agree on is the importance of nutrient timing for athletes.

Everyone's body is made of amino acids, intricately woven proteins that are continually broken down by exercise. To regenerate these tissues takes protein. However, before a workout, your muscles need fuel power. They are not yet ready to be repaired. Roughly one to two hours before a workout, you want to give your body the nutrients it needs to power you through. Basically, your pre-workout meals need to center around carbohydrates. You're probably thinking, "but I need protein to satiate my hunger levels." You're right, sort of. (See Pre-Workout Food: Fuel Up The Right Way.)

It takes time for protein to fully break down. Like every other nutrient, it must be digested in the stomach. But protein must be further broken down in the small intestine before it is transformed into usable amino acids to regenerate muscle tissue. While you're sweating through a workout, you need a more easily digestible fuel substance. The body functions best on the glycogen process, and glucose is a carb. After you're done with your last rep, then turn your focus to taking in protein.

Before a workout, remember: whole grain, complex carbs will provide you with the most readily available source of energy. Protein is not a key factor at this time, but I wouldn't suggest avoiding it totally. Have a banana and a serving of peanut butter. This is a great combo to provide a strong dose of carbohydrates and a moderate level of protein.

With so many sources of complex carbs available, your options are nearly endless. Play around with different foods to see what works best for you! (Check out Pre-Activity Snacks.)

Chris Costa
- Chris Costa has participated in athletics as a coach, player and official for 22 years. He specializes in hockey training, both on and off the...
Chris Costa
- Chris Costa has participated in athletics as a coach, player and official for 22 years. He specializes in hockey training, both on and off the...
More Cool Stuff You'll Like

5 Ways to Fuel Your Early Morning Workout

Five Ways to Fuel Morning Workouts Early morning workouts are great because you get them done. On the downside, they are difficult to fuel because you'd...

5 Delicious Ways to Make Junk Food Less Junky

Salad Showdown: Which Greens Are the Healthiest?

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

5 Ways Junk Food Can Mess With Your Head

Are You Eating Too Much Protein?

Spice Up Your Healthy Cooking With These Lively Combos

6 Eating Mistakes That Undo Your Workouts

Healthy Makeovers for 3 Classic Meals

7 Foods That Are Ruining Your Workouts

Where the Paleo Diet Falls Short

12 Foods Every Athlete Should Eat

The Healthiest (And Unhealthiest) Ways to Eat Chicken

The Best Foods for Digestive Health

A Sneaky Food Additive Athletes Should Avoid

You Should Eat the Peel of These 12 Fruits and Vegetables

The 6 Worst Foods for Athletes

Tips for Healthy Weight Gain

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

The Boston Cannons'

5 Healthy Foods That Got a Bad Rap

Healthy (and Unhealthy) BBQ Ideas For Athletes

9 Athlete-Approved Peanut Butter Sandwiches

Terrible Toppings: The 5 Worst Things We Put on Food

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

How to Deal With Your Sugar Cravings

3 Fruits and 3 Vegetables Athletes Must Eat

5 Nutritional Power Combos for Athletes

11 Food Services That Deliver Ready-Made Nutritious Meals

5 Foods That Are Stunningly High in Sodium

4 'Bad Foods' That Might be Good for You

The Case for Red Meat

How Friends and Family Affect Your Food Choices

Load Up on These Foods at Your Backyard Barbecue

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

Living Near Fast Food Could Increase Your Odds of Obesity

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

5 Non-Boring Ways To Eat Chicken

3 Nutrition Mistakes Endurance Athletes Make and How to Fix Them

5 Protein-Packed Recovery Shakes

5 'Good Foods' That Might Be Bad for You

10 Easy Ways to Eat Real Food

How Undereating Can Make You Gain Weight

How to Eat Organic Without Breaking the Bank

Why You Need Dietary Fiber

Foods for Athletes: Top Trends for 2014

Fuel Up Fast With 4 Smoothies From the New York Giants

Vegetarian Athlete Tips: Olympic Swimmer Kate Ziegler