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What to Eat Before a Workout

Fish Brown Rice Cherry Tomatoes with a Lemon Slice

Eating before a workout is usually only recommended if you will be doing exercise for extended periods of time – meaning more than an hour.

If you’re just going for a short jog, eating won’t be necessary. It’s only when you’re getting ready to rip those muscles or run for miles that you need to fuel your body for the grueling workout ahead!

Before a resistance training session

Building muscle requires a whole lot of amino acids, which comes from protein. The more amino acids your body has, the easier it will be to build those muscles. The more intense your workout will be, the more protein you will need.

Did You Know: It actually requires 9 different amino acids to build muscle. Without all 9, your body can’t use the amino acids, and they go to waste. Make sure to get all 9 amino acids to promote proper muscle building.

When preparing for a resistance training workout, make your meals:

  • 75% carbohydrates
  • 25% protein

This way, you’ll fuel your body with lots of instant energy – in the form of carbs – which will help it run properly at the beginning of your workout. By the time you have depleted the energy provided by the carbs, your body will have turned the protein into amino acids – ready for use by your muscles!

Eat at least 60 to 90 minutes before your resistance training workout, as that will give your body time to process all of the nutrients and turn it into fuel!

Before a cardio session

Cardio exercise will push your cardiovascular system, but it will require more fuel than muscle-building nutrients. You’re not pushing your muscles too hard, but you will need a steady burn of energy.

When preparing for a cardio session, make your meals:

  • 75% to 100% carbohydrates
  • 0 to 25% protein

The reason for this is that you want to provide your body with a lot of energy, which will be used throughout your cardio workout. It’s more about endurance when it comes to running, jogging, and cycling, and too much protein will actually slow you down.

That isn’t to say that you shouldn’t have protein in your pre-workout meal. In fact, you should add a bit of protein to your meal to ensure that your muscles can be fueled during your long run. Adding lots of fiber will also help to reduce the sugar rush and crash that is common when you eat a lot of carbs.

Eat about 30 to 60 minutes before your run, and your body will be able to metabolize those carbs into energy quickly.

Watch Your Carbs

When I talk about eating carbs, I don’t mean empty carbs like white bread, white rice, pasta, etc. These carbs will just give you an energy rush, but the crash will be pretty hard on your body.

In this case, you want to eat more complex carbohydrates than anything else. We’re talking:

  • Whole grains like quinoa, barley, brown rice, and millet
  • Oats (but not too much, as they will expand in your stomach)
  • Fruits like bananas and berries
  • Vegetables like celery and carrots

Beware of eating too much fiber, though, as it could cause stomach issues when you run. Also, make sure to only eat small portions, as you don’t want to feel too full as you run.

About Andy Peloquin

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