Working around a busy schedule and fitting in time for the gym can be a difficult task. Figuring out what to eat, especially before a training session, can be even harder. Eating too much can result in a sluggish and lethargic session, where as eating not enough, can leave you hungry and without the necessary energy to finish your workout. The decision of what you eat or drink can also be determined by your fitness goals and your journey, adding the headache. Whilst there is no clear-cut answer, we’ve dug deep to find exactly what your body needs and when it should be consumed!
How long before a workout should you eat?
A large meal, that is well-balanced containing protein, carbs, and fats is optimal 3 to 4 hours before a workout. This allows time for your body to process the meal and leave you with a solid base to work from. A smaller snack/meal, can still be consumed within the hour of exercising, however there needs to be consideration as you will want to give yourself enough time for the snack to digest. When exercising, blood moves to your muscles, leaving less of it to travel to the digestive organs. This can result in an upset stomach or even poor performance.
How much should you eat before a work out?
Whilst everyone and everybody is different, the below are a set of generic rules that may be followed:
- Eat 1g of Carbohydrates per kilogram of body weight 1 hour before exercising.
- Eat 2g of Carbohydrates per kilogram of body weight 2 hour before exercising.
This rule can be continued, e.g., 3g carbs per kg of bodyweight 3 hours before and so on.
What foods should I eat before exercising?
We have found some of the most suitable snacks and drinks that can be consumed before a workout. Whilst these won’t work for everyone, they are some good ideas if you are stuck or confused on what you should be putting into your body!
Commonly known as ‘Nature’s Energy Bar’, bananas are packed with potassium and carbohydrates. This supports muscle and nerve function. About 90% of banana calories are carbs, which are great for fueling the body and brain!
Oats are FULL of fiber. They also release carbohydrates slowly, resulting in energy levels staying steady throughout a workout. Oats are high in Vitamin B, helping convert carbs into energy. Pro Tip: Add a banana to your pre workout oats for an extra energy boost!
Now Pre-workout supplements are great for experienced gym-goers, and can also help those who are looking to lift heavier weights or burn fat. The main purpose of this supplement is to help you recover faster in between exercises, and reduce fatigue from the workout. The main ingredient is caffeine, which keeps you focused with high energy levels. Other ingredients include creatine, Beta-alanine and amino acids.
If you happen to have a little more time before your workout, and still want to have a pre-session snack, a smoothie can be just the ticket! Throw in some protein powder, a banana, 1 tbsp peanut butter and some milk (or water) and you’re good to go! This will take longer for your body to digest, so make sure you have plenty of time before smashing that session!
Now we’re not saying to smash choccy milk all the time, butttttt, before a workout we might let it slide! Studies have shown that drinking a glass of choccy half an hour before a workout can help boost muscle glycogen. It’s a great way to get some carbohydrates in before a session, which is great for a boost in energy!
Drinking coffee can improve muscle endurance, cognitive function, and muscle performance. Caffeine is quickly absorbed from the stomach, roughly between 15 – 45 minutes. It can also accelerate fat loss, using fat cells as the main energy source as opposed to glycogen.
Selecting the right pre- workout snack could be just what you need to break that PB or run that little bit faster. Either way, understanding what your individual goals are and what you are aiming to achieve is vital in deciding what you put into your body.
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