This week’s topic is pre workout nutrition. I’ll be talking about what to eat before a workout to maximize performance and recovery, and one choice is actually nothing!
Let’s start by defining pre workout nutrition. We’re talking about the meal you consume directly before resistance training. We’re not talking about doing low intensity cardio for fat loss, that’s a different animal. We’re talking about weight training, where your goal is to build muscle OR to maintain muscle while losing weight.
You may have heard that nutrition counts for 80% of your progress in the gym, and if that’s true pre workout nutrition probably accounts for 10-20%, just in one meal. So if you’re serious about making progress, the importance of your pre workout nutrition and tracking and monitoring your food intake cannot be overstated.
There are 2 purposes of the pre workout meal:
- Number one is to fuel your workout. For high intensity exercise such as weight training, the primary fuel source of your body is carbs. Sources of carbs include cereal, bread, rice, etc. There are also liquid carbs like maltodextrin, fructose and dextrose, that are found in Gatorade and powdered carb formulas. Your choice of carb sources will depend on how long before training you eat, and how fast your body digests food. If you’re eating 3-4 hours before you workout, you can eat pretty much anything and it will be digested in plenty of time before your workout. But if you only have a couple hours before training, it would be wise to eat something that digests a little faster, like cereal and skim milk or white rice. Now if you only have an hour or less, this is where the super-fast digesting carbs come into play - like Gatorade or other liquid carbs.
- The second purpose of the pre workout meal is to provide the raw materials for muscle growth and repair, namely protein. The idea is to have amino acids present in the bloodstream so the minute you’re done training, your body can start the repair process. Ideally you want a lean complete protein like lean meat or egg whites or some dairy source of protein. And again your choice of protein depends largely on when you eat your pre workout meal in relation to your training. If you’re eating 3-4 hours before you workout, you can eat pretty much any protein source. If you’re eating your pre workout meal 2 hours before training, you may be fine with chicken or low fat fish. If you’re eating an hour or less before training, a fast digesting protein is a better choice, something like egg whites or whey protein.
Now, if you’re wondering about dietary fat: fat should be lower pre workout, especially if you’re eating less than 3 hours before training, because it digests slowly and it slows down digestion of protein and carbs. If you’re eating an hour or less before training I would not have any fat at all.
Also you want to make sure you are well hydrated for your workout, meaning drink plenty of water or other fluids at least an hour before working out, preferably even longer. You want your muscles fully hydrated not just your stomach, and that takes a little time.
If you’re one of those people who work out fasted, maybe you work out super early in the morning, or you do intermittent fasting, or you just prefer working out on an empty stomach, then the meal you have the night before becomes your pre workout meal. You don’t have to worry about limiting fats or digestion time, just make sure you have a well-rounded meal with plenty of carbs and protein. And don’t forget to drink plenty of water a couple hours before training. In your case, your post workout nutrition becomes even more important.
What does the Bible say about the pre workout meal? Believe it or not the Bible does address this idea indirectly! The Bible mentions being prepared for battle or preparing for battle 79 times! Do you think this includes being well nourished beforehand? 1 Chronicles talks about David’s army, “skilled warriors, prepared for battle with every type of weapon.” So before we engage in our warfare with the weights we must prepare ourselves, physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally. INCLUDING our pre workout nutrition!
Okay that’s it for this week’s article. Thanks for joining me. Don’t forget to pick up my calorie calculator combo, the ultimate free tools to help you succeed on your fitness journey, just visit the link below. That’s all for now, God bless you, and I’ll see you next time.
Free Calorie Calculator Combo: https://www.spiritandmuscle.com/calories