The 6 Healthiest Things to Eat Before a Workout
When it comes to getting enough exercise, a lot goes into getting into the right frame of mind and physical motivation.
But when you focus on just the workout itself, it can be easy to forget about some crucial steps beforehand: eating food that will give your body an extra boost to get the most out of your workout.
Eating before working out is essential to keep yourself fueled up, but you need the right foods to do so. Going into a workout on an empty stomach can mean you burn through your energy faster, while eating foods that aren't suitable will make your body expend its resources on digesting instead of giving its all to your exercise.
Thankfully, certain foods can give us the right balance of fuel and nutrients to prepare our bodies for an effective workout routine. Here’s our guide to what to eat before a workout
Beneficial Nutrients Before a Workout
Healthy eating involves getting the right balance of nutrients in food, but some are far more beneficial than others when it comes to exercising. When deciding what to eat before a workout the top nutrients and their benefits include:
- Carbs – While often get a bad reputation and are commonly thought of as nutrients you should cut out of your diet, carbohydrates help boost glycogen stores in your muscles, which provide their primary source of energy, enabling you to keep up your workout for a longer time when following a high and short intensity routine.
- Proteins – A workout nutrient that's consistently shown to have benefits when eating pre-workout is protein. Protein-rich foods can help improve muscle recovery and growth, boost strength and lean body mass, and enhance muscle performance.
- Fat – Fats can help fuel longer periods of low-to-moderate intensity exercise. When integrating more regular amounts of healthy fats into your diet, it's possible to experience higher endurance levels. However, you should be careful to not overeat foods that are high in fat content.
While all these nutrients can be helpful to a workout, it's essential to pick the right snacks and meals that are suitable for the type of exercise you will be doing. Portion sizes and when you eat are also significant so that your body has enough time to process the beneficial nutrients while still having the carbs to fuel your workout. And don't forget to stay hydrated!
Foods to Avoid Before a Workout
When considering what to eat before a workout, you should avoid certain types of foods, even if some of them are objectively healthy choices. Avoid these foods before a workout:
- Leafy greens
- Raw seeds
- Whole grain bread
- Cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage
These types of foods generally take a lot of energy for the body to digest. The nutrients in these foods can be suitable for other meals, but you want as much of your body's resources going into your exercise as possible, so before to skip them before a workout. It's also best to avoid highly-processed foods or anything high in sugar.
6 Healthy Snacks and Meals Before a Workout
When it comes to timing when you eat before workout time, you want to give your body enough time to digest what you eat. When it comes to smaller snacks, between thirty minutes to an hour before working out is best, while you want to keep a few hours between eating a more substantial meal and exercise so that you don't go in on a full stomach.
Being mindful of your eating habits with intuitive eating can help you find the appropriate portion sizes and timing for your exercise routines.
Here are some recommendations of what to eat before working out.
Bananas provide both beneficial carbohydrates and potassium, which can help with both nerve and muscle function. They also work well as a grab and go items on days when you're ready to hit the gym but don't have a lot of free time in between.
Making smoothies from scratch can give you the benefits of whatever ingredients you put inside. Generally, one cup of fruits or two cups of vegetables will provide you with enough energy to go steady, and you can drink half before and half after for beneficial nutrients on both ends of the equation. If you make smoothies, you can rotate out ingredients for a variety of flavors, making it a contender for best food to eat before workout.
Parfait or Yogurt
Parfaits contain some of the best foods to eat before a workout. You can also adjust parfaits to your specific dietary needs and personal taste. By putting together yogurt, granola, and the berries of your choice, you can have several beneficial foods in one tasty treat. Greek yogurt, in particular, is an excellent choice. As a probiotic, greek yogurt is also incredibly beneficial for a healthy gut. For your best workout results, focus on unflavored yogurts and let fruit additions bring the flavor.
Oatmeal can pack essential fibers while integrating protein flavor allows you to get the muscle adding benefits from that nutrient as well. There are numerous overnight oat recipes out there, meaning you can prepare them the day before and have them ready to go in the morning.
Once more, mixing in berries and different ingredients, like chia seeds, can give you a wide variety of nutrients in one go, or you can get a bit creative with your recipes.
For something a bit more filling side, you can whip up an omelet for yourself as the main course in a meal geared towards including the best food to eat before a workout. Whole grain toast with avocado spread makes for an excellent bonus, while a cup of fruit rounds out the nutrients.
Since this is a more significant portion, you'll need a few hours until everything starts to kick in for your workout.
Grilled chicken serves as a lean protein, providing lots of muscle boosts without worrying about potentially harmful nutrients getting in the way. You can pair it up with vegetables, such as sweet potatoes or even broccoli since you'll be giving it time to digest first. This meal recommendation is suitable for those who do circuit training or have the goal of building muscle.
Healthy Food to Eat Before Any Workout
These foods are just some of the tasty, nutritious snacks and meals you can integrate into your diet before hitting the gym. Just like everything else involved in exercising, you want to find the right combination that works with you. By combining proper choices of what to eat before workout with other best workout tips, you can get the most out of your exercise routine.
Teami Blends - Co-Founder + CEO
Certified Nutrition Health Coach
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