Eating Before Training
When you work out, your body taps into its existing stores of glycogen and fat to provide energy, says Mark Strasser, MS, CSCS. When you eat the right type and proportions of food before your weight-training workout, you provide your body with all the glycogen and fuel it needs for an intense training session. If you run out of energy during a workout, your results will be sub-par, and you run the risk of injuring yourself.
You want to include protein in every meal when lifting weights, but to fuel your training, the majority of your pre-workout meal should come from carbohydrates. According to the Gatorade Sports Science Institute, two-thirds of your plate should be filled with carbohydrates for quick energy during the training session. Try combinations like a turkey sandwich on whole grain bread with tomatoes and lettuce, a steamed or grilled fish fillet with rice, or a melon and berry salad with cottage cheese.
While eating well balanced meals is ideal, it is not always practical for people in certain lifestyles. Having a demanding work schedule can cause you to meals altogether if you are not careful. Skipping meals can send your body into starvation mode, which can cause your body to temporarily shut down and cling to its resources. In turn, this means that your workouts will not produce the same results because your body will start to use healthy muscle tissue as fuel instead of recently consumed food.
The best meals to eat prior to working out should be carbohydrate rich. This is not to say that you should consume extra large portions of food before you exercise, as you should plan to eat in conjunction with how intense your workout will be. A low paced workout doesn't warrant eating a big meal, however, 90 minutes of intense cardio requires you to eat before, during and after your session.
Another reason that some people think that eating before weight training should be avoided is because they fear that they will develop muscle cramps. While there is some truth to this statement, a number of extreme factors would have to be in place for you to get a cramp during a weight training session. First, you would have to eat a particularly heavy meal just before working out in order to induce cramps. Secondly, it is much more difficult to feel stuffed when you eat vegetables and fruits, so when a cramp develops it is usually because an unhealthy meal was eaten.
To optimize your performance, you need to eat. Research has established that carbohydrate intake during exercise delays the onset of fatigue and improves endurance exercise performance. This happens because carbs enhance the availability of blood glucose to active muscle. Roughly 70% of the energy in your pre-workout meal should come from carbs, but choose low-glycemic carbs like oatmeal, veggies or sweet potatoes instead of simple sugars or candy to avoid wild fluctuations in your blood-sugar levels. Protein is the next important nutrient to consider in order to decrease muscle breakdown during and after your workout. Fat takes the longest to digest, so a pre-workout meal should be relatively low in fat.Your biggest challenge will be knowing how much food you can eat pre-workout, based on your own experience. Some guys can eat a full meal an hour before a rigorous workout, while others with more sensitive guts might have to wait three to four hours. In general, a meal that is around 500-600 calories and is eaten by a 180-pound man two to three hours before a workout should be fine. Smaller snacks of 300 calories or less can be eaten one hour pre-workout, but you should experiment with the timing and meal size to suit your individual needs.
If you're fueling for an intense endurance activity, then more carbs should be added. Those who are weight-lifting or building muscle should add more protein. Depending on your activity, the foods listed here will ensure that you get the best out of your workout.Low-fat yoghurt with a banana
Fruit and skim milk smoothie
Small chicken or turkey sandwich on wholegrain bread
Chopped apple mixed with low-fat ricotta cheese (try sprinkling with cinnamon)
Half a sweet potato topped with low-fat cottage cheese and a spoonful of salsa