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Your pre-workout meals are almost as important as post-workout because they tend to serve the purpose of fuelling your workout. Your blood sugar levels should be high during your workout – failing to eat the right foods before your workout can lead to low blood sugar levels, which in turn could cause fatigue and light headedness.
However, eating the right pre-workout nutrition at the right times can help to prevent low blood sugar levels by increasing glucose levels in the blood, for later blood sugar use in the body meaning energy is readily available to burn. Of course, it can be difficult to fit in a pre-workout meal if you tend to train first thing on a morning – you need to ensure that you digest your food before training. Here, we discuss the best times to have pre-workout nutrition and offer examples.
2-3 hours before your workout
A meal rich in carbohydrates and protein is ideal ahead of training – usually consisting of around 300-400 calories. Foods like brown rice, wholegrains, vegetables and chicken are great because, generally, they won’t leave you feeling exceptionally bloated, and can be digested easily by your body prior to exercise.
During exercise, your glycogen stores deplete rapidly and become limited so your pre-workout meal is an opportunity for you to boost glycogen levels. A meal consisting of chicken, brown rice and vegetables is ideal at this point – but that may not sound a little bland. If you’re looking for something a little more exciting, why not try a ‘chorizo, spinach and mushroom omelette?’
- 4-6 large eggs
- A handful of spinach
- Chopped chorizo
- A handful of chopped mushrooms
- Beat the eggs
- Heat the pan and add some oil to it.
- Pour your eggs into the pan so that all of the mix covers the whole pan.
- Add the chorizo, mushrooms and spinach, or any other vegetables that you want to use.
- Flip the omelette halfway through cooking.
- Fold just before serving.
It’s a great way of gaining protein quickly, whilst the chorizo adds a layer of spice to your meal. Of course, extra seasoning can be added to your own preference, chilli flakes, herbs or spices in place or in addition to the chorizo for those not consuming meat.
30 minutes before your workout
A light meal or snack prior to your workout will also contribute to keeping your blood sugar levels high. As with any workout, your body requires a significant amount of energy to perform to your best ability – with no energy, you’ll become prematurely fatigued, and your muscles can reach exhaustion early.
You don’t want to overeat at this point. Some foods which are ideal for pre-workout are the likes of bananas, peanut butter with apple, Greek yoghurt with fruit or porridge and oatmeal. You’ll want to keep to simple carbohydrates that your body finds easy to digest. Looking for something a little different with stacks of flavour? Try some ‘overnight oats.’
- 40g porridge oats
- 200g natural or Greek yoghurt
- Fruit of your choice (strawberries, blueberries, banana, raspberries)
- Layer the porridge, yoghurt and fruit into a jar, bowl or small ramakin and cover before placing in the fridge overnight so that the oats can soak up the yoghurt and flavours.
- The next morning, remove from the fridge, stir and add more fruit to the top.
There are a variety of flavours and fruits you can use in your overnight oats – it is purely down to personal preference.