Providing the body with adequate hydration and nutrition at the right time can maximize performance abilities, endurance, and muscle repair and restoration. Eating the right foods at the right time will fuel the body to support intense exercises. That means plenty of energy for cardiovascular and strength training. The optimal combination of pre-workout nutrition depends on the type of workout and how long it takes for the body to absorb the nutrients to get moving. Injury Medical Chiropractic and Functional Medicine Clinic can develop a fitness and nutritional plan customized to the individual’s needs and health goals.
Table of Contents
The three main macronutrients are carbohydrates, proteins, and fats when preparing pre-workout meals and snacks. Ratios are based on the specific needs of the workout. For example, going for a one-mile jog or a light aerobics class requires different amounts for different purposes. The longer and more intense the exercise, the more food is needed. Individuals may only need to modify or adjust their eating habits slightly for light workouts. Their roles vary:
Each has a different role in supplying fuel for powering through physical activity.
- Carbs are an important fuel for exercise.
- Carbs can be found in grains, fruits, vegetables, and dairy products.
- These are the easiest energy foods for the body to turn into glucose.
- Glucose is stored in the muscles as glycogen.
- Without enough carbohydrates, the body will be depleted of energy and become exhausted.
- This macronutrient is found in poultry, eggs, fish, and nuts.
- Takes longer for the body to digest.
- Protein helps the body feel full.
- The body uses various nutrients to repair and build muscles.
- Getting protein throughout the day can help with recovery after a workout.
- The body burns fat for longer low to moderate-intensity workouts, such as a long run or bicycle ride.
- However, fat takes more effort and time for the body to digest.
- So, eating healthy fats is not the best right before exercise.
Pre-Workout Nutrition Guidelines
The exact mix of foods/nutrients ideal for the workout depends on when the individual can eat in relation to the time of the activity and intensity of the exercise.
Two to Four Hours Before Exercising
- Have a meal containing a mix of carbohydrates, fats, and protein.
- Oatmeal with fruit and nuts, a turkey sandwich with vegetables and some fruit, or a chicken and rice bowl with vegetables and avocado.
One to Two Hours Before Exercising
- A light meal or snack.
- Cereal with low-fat milk, peanut butter with crackers, or a fruit smoothie.
- Avoid foods high in fiber and fat because they take longer to digest and can lead to digestion/stomach issues during exercise.
Before Morning Exercise
- Going to the gym or out for a run first thing in the morning, something small, like a banana or granola bar.
- For individuals that can’t eat early, don’t force yourself.
- Have an extra portion at dinner or a snack before bed to have enough fuel for the morning.
- Have easy-to-digest carbs if the exercise session lasts more than an hour.
- A banana or pretzels.
- Sports drink during the workout contains electrolytes and minerals like sodium, magnesium, and potassium that assist in regulating functions like muscle contractions lost as the body sweats.
- Liquids are lost when the body sweats. Sipping water before, during, and after the workout is important.
- Even a small dip in hydration levels can lower exercise performance and lessen mental sharpness.
- Drinking two to three cups of water two to three hours before exercise is recommended.
- During the workout, you should get at least a half to a full cup of water every 15 to 20 minutes.
- After the workout, replenish hydration levels with two to three more cups.
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