Whether to lose weight, maintain it or increase it, following a proper fitness regime is key. A fitness regime is not just based on what workout you do; what you eat is also essential. As also is when you eat it!
For better performance and fast recovery of your body, eating the right food before and after the workout makes all the difference. Ensuring you get the proper pre-workout nutrition “will not only help you maximise your performance, give you energy and strength and also prevent muscle loss,” says celebrity nutrition consultant Neha Sahaya of Neha Sahaya Wellness.
Not having the right type and amount of food before a workout can lead to a feeling of lightheadedness, nausea, lethargy or dizziness. “Your macronutrient (protein/ carbohydrate and fat) all have a specific role before a workout,” Sahaya adds, “The ratio in which you need to consume these macronutrients varies by the individual, time of workout, meal gaps and type of exercise.”
Pre-Workout Nutrition: Proteins
When you exercise, your muscles are the one getting used up more. Muscle protein breakdown happens when you exercise more than the amount of protein you take in. If you ensure that the amount of protein your body has is more than the protein breakdown, you can ensure you build up your muscles. So for strength training, and building up those muscles having the right amount of protein in your food is crucial.
“Eating a meal that contains a substantial amount of lean protein before exercising can help to improve performance especially if one is doing resistance training,” Sahaya notes, “Intense resistance workout can damage the muscles, but consuming protein increases the number of amino acids in the body.” Protein helps in improving lean body mass, muscle strength, muscle performance and immunity.
Pre-Workout Nutrition: Carbohydrates
You get the energy to do your workouts with the carbohydrates aka carbs you eat. Intensive exercises – like HIIT, Tabata, etc., use up the glycogen – stored glucose in the body – stored in liver and muscles. “The amount of carbs used depends on factors like the intensity, type of training and your overall nutrition. Your muscles glycogen stores are limited. As these stores reduce, your output and intensity reduce,” claims Sahaya, “Various studies have shown that carbs can increase glycogen stores and boosting carb oxidation during your workout.”
Pre-Workout Nutrition: Fats
For low to moderate intensity workouts, fat is used as the energy source. But, “high fats are avoided before exercise because the body digests fats more slowly than carbohydrates,” Sahaya points out, “This means that the body may not be able to break down fat quickly and thereby not providing the energy required for a workout.” Before a workout, it is better to eat a meal that is more on protein and carbohydrates than fats.
Pre-Workout Nutrition: What To Eat
Before getting to what to eat, when to eat is also essential. Eating two hours before exercise is ideal as it allows digesting the meal, Sahaya points out, “Which foods and how much to eat depends on the type of workouts, its duration and intensity.”
Sahaya lists out options of food items that you can choose from for getting the right pre-workout nutrition: a bowl of cereal with low-fat milk, a jam sandwiches, baked beans on toast, cereal bars with protein, pancakes with syrup, a milkshake with fruit, oats with low-fat milk or with banana, protein shake in low-fat milk, and egg on toast.
“Alternately, a person may eat a smaller meal that is mostly made up of simple carbohydrates to give quick energy. In this case, they need only wait for 30–60 minutes before working out,” Sahaya shares. For this, you can have fruits like banana, orange or apple or dry fruit like dates or even a whey protein concentrate.
Pre-Workout Nutrition: FAQs
Q. What should be the calorie intake for a pre-workout snack?
“Unless you’re a serious fitness enthusiast who burns hundreds of calories, avoid a pre snack very high in calories,” Sahaya answers, “Generally, aim to go for a pre-workout snack that has around 200 to 100 calories (depending on how early you eat before your workout). The snack should have at least 10 grams of protein, and the rest of the calories can come from carbs.”
Q. Could you share a recipe of the kind of milkshake one can have a snack for getting the right pre-workout nutrition?
Calories: 207 calories, (7 g protein, 1 g fat (0 g saturated fat), 48 g carbohydrates, 8 g fibre)
1 cup spinach, chopped
½ cup apple juice, freshly made
1. Freeze the spinach overnight.
2. Chop the banana and add it and the spin to a blender along with the apple juice.
3. Blend it, and you have a nutritious, filling smoothie.