Any form of physical exertion without the intake of small amounts of nutrition is inadvisable. The time interval between a pre-workout, a modicum of nutrition, and the kind of nutrition to be eaten are accountable factors.
For all those exercise enthusiasts, there are two simple rules that should be remembered – firstly, the food should be easy to digest and at the same time provide the body with energy to perform exercises. Secondly, the number of calories consumed should be lesser than the number of calories that would be used during the workout, at the same time the amount of calories should not be less than the basic requirement of the body to perform exercises. Below are some useful tips on the foods to eat before a workout, including a list of foods which meet all these criteria.
Carbohydrates, Proteins or Fats?
The best foods to eat are those which provide instant energy to the body, so that the body has enough fuel to carry on with the strenuous workout routine that is to follow. And what better way to provide the body with instant energy than by eating foods which are rich in carbohydrates.
If a person follows a diet rich in carbohydrates before he exercises, besides giving the body energy, its another benefit is that it leaves the stomach in maximum two hours. On the other hand, if proteins and fats are taken in excess before exercising, they will take several hours to get fully digested. This can create a number of gastrointestinal problems while exercising. So, to avoid this, the meal before the workout should be in the ratio of 3:1 for carbohydrates and proteins, with a very small amount of healthy fats such as those found in olive oil or flax seeds. Some of the easily digestible carbohydrates that should be taken within one hour of a workout are fruit juices, fruits such as watermelon, banana, pineapple, mango and apricots, fruit smoothies, sports drinks, energy bars, and pretzels.
Refined or Complex Carbohydrates?
The carbohydrates that are consumed before performing exercises should not be processed or refined. Consume complex carbohydrates found in foods such as vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Complex carbohydrates are rich in fiber, antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins, and thus, make an excellent pre-workout food.
It is very essential that the body is properly hydrated before, during, and after exercising. If the body is dehydrated, it can cause problems such as headaches, cramping, and tiredness, and the person will not be able to exercise properly. It is generally recommended that a person should drink two liters of water in a day. Before exercising, a woman should take around twenty ounces of water, while a man should take thirty ounces of water.
How much Sodium?
Along with increasing the water intake, it is important for exercise enthusiasts to make up for the loss of electrolytes such as sodium. When a person sweats due to exercising, he loses salt. To replace it, beverages such as coconut water or any of the energy drinks should be taken before or during the workout. Simply adding salt to a pre-workout drink will make up for the lost electrolytes too.
How Many Calories?
It is not only important to eat the right kind of food, but also the right quantity of food. If too much food is consumed prior to exercise, it can make a person lazy and may even result in indigestion. At the same time, if too less is eaten, it can make a person hungry and drained off energy during the workout. Ideally, the meal before a workout session should be around two hundred calories for women and three hundred calories for men. An exerciser should try to stick to this calorie count as much as possible. The pre-workout meal should consist of foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, yogurt, cereals, egg white, whole grain crackers, low-fat milk, tomatoes, and vegetable juice, and should be taken anywhere between two to three hours prior to a workout, so that it gets fully digested.
The metabolism of the body varies from person to person. There are some people who simply cannot eat anything before exercising. For such people, it is advisable that the previous meal which they have before a workout should be rich in complex carbohydrates. It can be the dinner before a morning exercise session or the breakfast before an afternoon exercise session. Experimenting with different kinds of healthy diet meals is another way to determine the kind of food to eat, that will suit the person’s body.