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Choosing Good Pre-Workout Meals

March 12, 2013 | Branson Lee

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As an athlete, you make the right decisions for your performance by heading to the gym for daily workout sessions, so don't make a wrong one by neglecting a pre-workout meal. (Read Guidelines for Effective Pre-Workout Nutrition.) What you eat before each workout session dramatically influences how you perform.

The secret to a good pre-workout meal isn't necessarily the food itself but what it contains. In order to properly get you through a workout, your meal needs to provide a combination of lean protein and complex carbohydrates. Take success in your own hands with these great options.

Egg Whites With Whole Grain Toast

Egg whites are great because they're low in fat and rich in fast-digesting protein. When paired with whole grain toast, they supply the nutrients you need to get through your workout without a significant decline in energy.

Egg whites are also fast to prepare, so they're perfect for early morning workout sessions.

Oatmeal With Casein Protein Powder

Oatmeal is a slow digesting carbohydrate, so you won't crash midway through your workout session. Complex carbs have been shown to aid fat oxidation during exercise. And since casein protein powder is also slower digesting, it delivers a steady stream of protein over time.

Note: if you move into your workout immediately after eating, a whey isolate protein powder is a better choice, because it is faster-acting. (See Ask the Experts: What's the Difference Between Whey and Casein Protein?)

Tuna and Whole Wheat Pita

Canned tuna in water is fat-free, and it's an excellent source of lean protein. Whole wheat pita offers a solid source of energy to keep you going throughout your entire workout session.

Just don't add any high-fat condiments (like mayonnaise) to this pre-workout meal. Fat content should be kept low to prevent cramping. (See The Most Hardcore Snacks in Sports.)

Chocolate Milk

If you can't tolerate the thought of solid food before a workout, chocolate milk works well, as long as your session isn't too long in duration. It provides some protein and carbohydrates, but the carbs are simple in nature, so you could experience a low blood sugar if you plan to exercise longer than 45 minutes.

If you plan to work out longer, add a complex carbohydrate such as a slice of whole-wheat toast.

Finished with your workout? Learn how to recover faster with Post-Workout Foods for Any Occasion.

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