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Whatever you are trying to do to get your fitness levels higher, whether you’re perfecting your push up or trying to master your chest press, if you want to get the most out of your workout, you’ve got to eat right to provide the right ammunition for your body. You may know that what you eat before your workouts you can impact your body; but you may not realize that the right pre-workout foods can help you provide energy and burn calories as well. But it also depends on the kind of exercises are you planning to do that day.
If pumping iron seems to be your go-to fitness plan for the day, you need a different kind of fuelling, similarly, a run out in the open needs a different kind of fuelling. If you are confused with a capital C, check out these foods to get your fat burning to an optimum level and also get tons of energy to plow through the entire day.
The Rules to Follow for your Pre-Workout Meals
Now if you go around drinking sugary drinks and eating fatty foods before a workout, you won’t reap any benefits out of a grueling session at the gym. If you eat too much, then you will feel too bloated to get any results. So you need to find the right balance of nutrition and exercises for effective fat burn.
Eating the Meals at the right time- As a rule, you can have a relatively heavy meal about three to four hours before a workout, but the closer you are to a workout, the simpler should be your meals.
If you eat at least two to three hours before, you’ll have time for your food to digest and be absorbed from your GI tract into your blood. Therefore, you can eat a more complex meal containing fat and fiber, which can take longer to break down.
How Intense Your Workout Is going to be– If your workout is going to be intense, you need to eat accordingly. That is, the more intense your workout, the larger portions you should eat! If you are just going for a thirty minutes’ walk you need not stuff your face with foods of all kinds. Just a small fruit is all you need to take. If you are going to spend just a few minutes on the elliptical you don’t need additional calories too. So divide your calories accordingly.
Fuel up- So what should you eat to fuel correctly? Two or three hours before a moderate intensive workout, a meal comprising of a sandwich on whole grain bread with lean protein, roasted vegetables, and avocado is a terrific option.
But if you are just one hour away from a good workout and you are in a hurry, grab a banana or an apple with a peanut butter and you will have a healthy and delicious option, high in fiber and protein. A granola bar can fulfill your nutrient needs pretty easily as well; you just have to check whether it contains high doses of additives and preservatives. Also, when you are really strapped for time, grab a banana and you are pretty much good to go.
The Best Food Options and what to Eat at What Time
We already know that our need for food varies according to the intensity levels of our workouts. For the changing requirements, these fat-free foods can help you get ready for a grueling session at the gym.
- For that early morning workout- If you prefer to wear your sneakers and take a stab at running early in the morning, you must concentrate on proper nutrition and start the previous night. Eat a wholesome dinner with a cup of brown rice, a cup of steamed broccoli and 3 to 5 ounces of lean protein, and then you can nibble on a banana coupled with a spoonful of almond butter. Having a meal bigger than that could make you feel too heavy and thwart chances of having a fulfilling workout.
- What to eat for the evening workouts- If you want to get the most from your evening exercising session, you’ll need to eat a combination of complex carbs, veggies and protein two or three hours before gearing up for a sweaty session at the gym. A medium-sized sweet potato, a cup of steamed spinach and 3-5 ounces of chicken breast, lean ground turkey, or white fish can be regarded as a perfect combination.
- What to eat before yoga or Pilates session- If your stomach is protesting too much while doing a Surya Namaskar, you must know that you need fuelling for your workout ahead. Also, if you are too full and unable to work your abs on the reformer, it must mean that you have had too much of fuelling. Keep hunger pangs at bay by having something like fruit which will replenish, yet not fill you up too much.
The Top Foods to Have Before a Workout
The top pre-workout foods which provide you with lots of energy before a workout are the following. Include them for an invigorating session at the gym.
1. Bananas- Bananas are high in carbs, which will provide you with lots of fuel and the potassium helps in maintaining muscle and nerve function. This is the easiest food to have on the go.
2. Oats- Oats are high in fiber, which helps with a steady release of carbohydrates into your bloodstream, providing you with a sustainable source of energy for the entire day.
3. Caffeine- Caffeine has been shown to give people who exercise with a lot of fuel, it also aids in fat-burning pretty effectively.
4. Fruit Smoothies- Fruit smoothies are a wonderful pick me up food before a workout. The combination of simple and complex carbohydrates can do wonders and provide you with sufficient energy which will sustain you for a good many hours.
5. Chickpeas- This is a very easy snack, which is an ideal combination of protein and carbs and just a quarter of a cup can provide you with energy for the better part of the day. 30 grams of carbs, 10 grams of protein and 9 grams of fiber can give you an adequate amount of nutrients and it is pretty filling as well.
6. Eggs- Egg whites can provide plenty of protein, all of 4 grams, and are a great energy provider. An egg can provide a wholesome beginning to your day.
7. Dried Fruit-This is a good option as the simple carbs provide almost instant energy, fuelling you to perform your workouts with the right dash of energy.
8. Whole Grains-Whole grains are a great source of food and they provide plenty of energy for your workouts. Quinoa and brown rice, for example, are packed with fiber and have a slow release of energy which can last the entire duration of your workout.
9. Chicken Breast and Brown Rice-If you have plans for an evening or night workout, it is wise to include a carb source like brown rice, sweet potato or quinoa. A source of protein like chicken breast or white fish can provide the right degree of fuel for the whole day.
10. Cottage Cheese- Cottage cheese is a competent source of protein, with minimal sugar. If you are able to digest dairy, cottage cheese and greek yogurt are good sources of protein, and can provide you with sustainable energy during strenuous workouts.
Recipes for pre-workout fuel
Planning for a pre-workout meal can be tricky. Most of the times we are so busy we don’t get enough time to plan our meals, and more often than not we are too tired to prepare something healthy to cater to our nutrient needs. A pre-workout meal is very important as it can provide us with energy which will help us plow through the entire day. A few simple recipes can help us save time and effort, and also pack a punch as far as nutrients are concerned. So include these low-calorie foods to up your weight-loss game.
1. Kiwi and Kale Smoothie
This is an exotic smoothie with the best of ingredients. If you are one of those who detests kale in its steamed avatar, this smoothie could be your savior. So if you are wondering what to eat before a workout, this should be the one.
- 1½ cups skim milk
- 2 cups kale (stems and leaves)
- 1 kiwifruit (peeled)
- 1 tbsp. smooth unsalted peanut butter
- 1 tsp. agave nectar, honey, or maple syrup
- Combine all ingredients together in a food processor, and blend until the mixture reaches the desired consistency.
- In addition to the vitamins A, C, and K that this smoothie provides, it will also give you a boost of calcium and iron, as well as the protein you’ll need to push yourself longer and harder.
2. Chocolate Oatmeal Protein Smoothie
If you are tired of the taste of regular oats, change the way of preparation and you are pretty much good to go, as this recipe is a good source of protein and carbs. Oatmeal is also one of the top fat-burning foods.
- 2 cups milk
- ¾ cups oats
- 1 banana (chopped)
- 1 scoop (1–2 tbsp.) chocolate protein powder
- Pour the milk into the blender, and then with it running on a very low setting, add the protein powder, followed by the oats, and then the banana.
- Blend until smooth.
- This smoothie combines the quick-release energy of the banana with the slower-release energy from the oats. The end result is a protein-rich, chocolaty treat that will keep you energized for hours to come.
3. Banana Walnut Smoothie
Banana is your go-to fruit as far as your pre-workout fuel is concerned. It contains a fair amount of fiber and anti-oxidants. Combined with the nutty texture of walnuts, it makes for a nutritional recipe.
- 2 cups (500 mL) skim milk
- 1 large banana
- 1 Tbsp. (15 mL) honey
- 1/4 tsp. (1 mL) vanilla extract
- Handful walnut pieces (or 7 halves)
Directions: Blend all ingredients together.
4. Citrus Smoothie:
The folate in citrus fruits and iron in spinach makes for a great combination and should give you the energy to torch calories in the gym. These are among the best energy-boosting foods for a workout.
- 1 orange, peeled and chopped, seeds removed
- 1 lemon, peeled and chopped, seeds removed
- 4 spinach leaves
- 2 carrots, peeled and chopped (or grated)
- 1 1/2 cup (375 mL) almond milk
- 1 peach, peeled and chopped
Directions: Blend all ingredients together.
5. Beet Smoothie
The nitrate in the beets provides energy and zest for those vigorous exercises in the gym. Give it the right anti-oxidant punch with strawberries.
- 4 beets, cooked and peeled
- 2 cups (500 mL) unsweetened coconut water
- 2 cups (500 mL) frozen strawberries
- 1 lime, juiced
Directions: Blend all ingredients together until mixture is smooth.
6. Blueberry Smoothie
This is a great smoothie to take care of your nutrient needs and also provide you with sustainable energy. Blueberries are one of the most important energy boosting foods.
- 1½ cups coconut milk
- ½ cups soft silken tofu
- 2 tbsp. chia seeds
- 1 cup frozen blueberries
- 1 tbsp. honey
- 1 scoop (1–2 tbsp.) vanilla protein powder
- Combine all of the ingredients together in a food processor, and blend until smooth.
- This smoothie manages to be delicious and energy boosting, while also being filling and satisfying, so you won’t feel as though you’re starving while you exercise. However, be warned that this mixture will quickly begin to thicken up once it is blended, so if you’d rather have something a bit smoother, be sure to drink it directly after you finish making it.
7. Kale Smoothie
This smoothie is a potent drink with all kinds of nutritious ingredients like spinach, parsley, celery and so on. Take a leaf from Popeye’s book and chug along.
- Cayenne Pepper
- Pile all of the ingredients into the blender and blend it until smooth.
- This isn’t a smoothie that you’ll be drinking for enjoyment; it’s one that you’ll be drinking for the massive amounts of energy that comes along with it. So, grit your teeth, take a deep breath, and chug away. It probably won’t taste good, but it will carry you through your exercise regimen.
So plan your meals in advance, as it will provide you with numerous nutrients and also help you be charged enough to workout with large doses of energy and enthusiasm. The importance of pre-workout meals cannot be undermined. So the next time you feel low and down in the gym you know how to fuel yourself!