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.