apple slice with nut butter as a pre-workout snack

Don’t Work Out On An Empty Stomach

 

Tips For Pre-Workout Meals

Eat a solid protein-based meal before working out to improve your metabolism and focus. A mixed meal of protein, low-glycemic carbs, and “smart” fats prior to exercise will allow you to burn more fat and get the best results.

“Quick energy” in the from of simple, fast-digesting carbohydrates are one of the worst things you can eat before exercise if you want to have great workout. They will cause high blood sugar and a spike of insulin into the blood, which can leave you feeling sluggish. The combination may also elevate cortisol needlessly, leaving you with a compromised hormonal environment for building muscle.

Research shows that instead, you should eat a slow-digesting meal about an hour before exercise that provides all the macronutrients (protein, carbs, healthy fat). For example, a recent study showed that athletes who ate a protein-based low-glycemic breakfast increased their metabolism for a longer period after a hard workout than a group who ate no breakfast. Fat burning was also higher.

Naturally, you need to individualize your pre-workout meal for your needs, but here are some tips that can help you get better results:

  • Eat a solid mixed meal leaving enough time to digest.
  • Use liquid protein, such as whey, post-workout because the body is primed to use the amino acids provided for tissue repair and recovery.
  • Avoid high-glycemic carbs like candy bars, most protein bars, bread, pasta, and the like.
  • Choose veggies and low-glycemic fruits such as berries. The goal is to keep blood sugar stable or slightly raise it.
  • Avoid eating a high-fat meal, but do get some omega-3 fats, even if you just take some fish oil. High saturated fat meals can lead to poor blood flow, whereas omega-3 fats have been shown to increase blood flow and insulin sensitivity.
  • Get your protein from fish or wild meat that has omega-3s, or take a few grams of fish oil to aid the body in getting nutrients into the cells to be burned to give you energy.
  • If you normally don’t eat anything before working out, start small and plan ahead. Prepare breakfast in advance (the night before) to ensure you have everything ready and can get out the door quickly. Start with just a few bites the first day and take it from there.
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