Just as you put fuel in your car before driving, you want to put fuel in your body before you work out. Eating the right type of fuel at the right time before your workout will help motivate and energize your workout. Pre-exercise fuel has many functions—it prevents low blood sugar, fuels your muscles and helps to ward off hunger. By selecting the right foods before your workout you can watch your performance excel!
1 to 3 Hours Pre-Workout
Preparing for your workout doesn’t just happen; there are many things to consider. Selecting a well-balanced meal containing all of your macronutrients (carbs, fats, protein) and even fibre, 1 to 3 hours before your workout will help to ward off hunger and top up muscle glycogen levels. A great pre-workout meal would be a gluten-free quinoa bowl with mixed berries, topped with slivered almonds and your favourite plant based milk-alternative.
Tip: When preparing your meals, be sure to choose food that are easily digested and can settle comfortably. This will help your body to use energy during your workout rather than in digestion!
20 to 30 Minutes Pre-Workout
It’s game time. You’re heading out the door, and you’re in a slight rush. Whether you’ve just woken up, or just finished work, it’s time to quickly prepare your body for your workout. Two main things to consider: holistic stimulants (such as yerba maté or green tea) and easily digestible, fast-acting carbohydrates (to top up your energy levels). If you’re up early and have no appetite, consider a liquid boost such as a vege/fruit protein smoothie to enhance mental focus and provide both immediate and sustained energy.
Sugar-free Fuelling vs. Functional Sugar Fuelling
Different workouts have different fuelling requirements. Length and intensity are two main considerations when fuelling your body and preparing for your workout. Functional sugars (sugars or carbohydrates your body needs for energy and stamina) are used wisely when engaging in intensive workouts like weight training, Cross-fit, endurance runs or bicycle rides, especially those that last an 30 minutes or longer. Before any of those activities, drink a pre-workout smoothie (have a look at some of the options at Hemptons – Recipes). If you are engaging in a less-intense or shorter workout such as yoga, pilates or walking, a fruit – like a banana – prior to workout is a suitable option to have 20 minutes pre-workout to give you an extra-boost without the added functional sugars your body doesn’t necessarily require for a less-intense workout.
Food vs. Liquid Fuel
If you’d rather eat 20 to 30 minutes before you work out, a simple piece of fruit will do! If you’re bored of fruit or want to try something new, try a level tablespoon of coconut oil blended with your favourite tea or on its own! Coconut oil contains medium chain triglycerides which are converted by the liver into energy source (much like carbohydrates) but contain no sugar or carbohydrates!
If you have a sensitive stomach, liquid foods tend to leave the stomach faster than solid foods do. Try a fruit and/or vege smoothie or fresh fruit juice before your workout. You can even try drinking a shot of Hemptons Hemp Protein powder and 250ml, instead of a full drink. If you know you’ll be jittery and unable to tolerate any food before your event or workout, be sure to make a special effort to eat enough carbohydrates the day and night before.
Preventing dehydration before exercise is one of the keys of maintaining exercise performance (especially in hot/humid environments). Leading up to your workout, be sure to drink plenty of fluids. If possible, drink extra fluid leading up to your sport or workout, until your urine is a pale colour. Drink about 2 to 3 glasses, 2 to 3 hours before exercise and around 1 glass, 10 to 15 min before exercise for optimal hydration and energy.
If you are hoping for success in the gym or at your game and results in the mirror, planning your pre-workout meals and hydration is crucial. There are many things to consider when fuelling for your workout but the quality and selection of the right food at the right time and proper hydration is paramount. It doesn’t have to be complicated, just be sure to schedule your pre-workout nutrition just as you schedule your workouts.
Kreider et al. ISSN exercise & sport nutrition review: research & recommendations .Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition 2010, 7:7 http://www.jissn.com/content/7/1/7