Professional athletes, amateur fitness enthusiasts and beginners, all need to be mindful of what they eat before going to the gym. Eating right before working out helps your body to perform better during the workout and recover better after the workout. You will be able to run that extra mile on the treadmill and at the same time minimise chances of muscle damage due to the extra effort you put in.
What you should eat before a session a commercial gym can be broken down into three main categories.
Carbohydrates contain glucose, which acts as fuel for your muscles. If you prefer short but high-intensity workouts, then the glucose stored in your muscles will be the primary driving force. Hence, you need to have a carbohydrate-rich meal before the session.
However, if you prefer longer workouts, then having carbohydrates only before the session might not be enough. You will have to increase the supply of glucose stored in your muscles for longer sessions. For this, you will have to increase the number of carbohydrates in your daily diet. This will ensure that during your workout session you have enough glucose in the muscles to last a longer period of time. If the level of glucose diminishes, your level of intensity reduces with it.
There are many benefits of eating protein before working out. Your muscle growth will be more pronounced and you will notice an improvement in muscle recovery as well. Your overall strength will increase, along with an increase in muscle performance. You can combine protein and carbohydrates in your pre-workout diet.
If you don’t want to dramatically increase your carbohydrate intake for a longer exercise session, you can supplement it by eating the right type of fat. Fat is the perfect muscle fuel for longer exercise sessions that vary from moderate to low intensity. You can even consider incorporating more fat (but of the right type) into your regular diet to increase your overall endurance levels.
When Should You Eat?
When you eat is as important as what you eat before going to the gym. Ideally, you should eat a complete meal, which includes foods from all the three categories, about 2-3 hours before your workout. In case it’s not feasible for you to have a complete meal or eat a couple of hours before exercising, stick to simpler forms of carbohydrates and a little bit of protein. If you’re eating about an hour before exercising, make sure what you eat is simple to digest. Or else you might experience discomfort in your stomach.
You can incorporate whole grain bread sandwiches with lean protein, salads, omelettes, fruits, brown rice in your pre-workout diet if you’re eating at least a couple of hours before the session. Have protein smoothies, bananas, oatmeal, if you’re eating 1-2 hours before working out. Stick to yoghurt (preferably Greek) or bowl of fruits, if you’re eating under an hour before exercising.
If you want to have a pre-workout supplement, consult an expert to find out the best practices and ideal quantity.
Finally, remember to keep yourself well hydrated. Water is as important as anything that you eat. It will help you both sustain and enhance your performance level.