Working out regularly is one part to fitness done. Knowing what to eat and when to eat is also equally important. Fuelling the body in the right way, with the correct nutrients before exercising is essential for the strength and energy needed during the session.
So how do you determine, which macro-nutrient or food is best suited for pre-workout?
Every macronutrient has its own particular function in the body and accordingly, it works its role when taken before a workout. On the other hand, it is equally important to balance out the ratio depending on the need.
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Carbs serve as the most basic, major source of fuel glucose. For high intensity, short termed exercises, the body uses fuel from muscles and liver stores where glucose is stored as glycogen. These stores, however, are limited and tend to become depleted, affecting the performance.
Whereas, duration of the exercise, type of activity and overall diet pattern play a role in determining the fuel utility in a long-termed exercise routine. That is the reason why most individuals, especially athletes practice carb-loading or carb cycling to maximize the glycogen storage. This has also been consistently been supported by studies that carbs tend to increase the storage as well as utilization of glycogen at the same time boosting carbohydrate oxidation at the time of exercise.
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Protein, another crucial macronutrient, has been thoroughly documented through studies as a nutrient with impressive potential to improve the performance, both pre and post workout. When taken in combination with carbs, it has shown to improve and increase muscle protein synthesis. However, not all types of proteins act same that is to say; some are slowly digested while others get absorbed sooner.
Studies have reported anabolic response post ingestion of fast acting whey prior to workouts. Some of which include:
- Enhanced recovery
- Better absorption of nutrients resulting in muscle growth
- Increase in the lean muscle mass
- Increase in stamina, quality of performance
Carbohydrate vs. Protein:
To sum up, carbohydrates help in maximizing glycogen stores for high intensity workouts whereas protein improves the muscle protein synthesis and enhances muscle recovery. Therefore it is ideal to ration out both the macronutrients in the right balanced amounts. However, that is not all. As mentioned earlier, timing of the nutrient is also essential when it comes to pre-workout nutrition.
As such, there is no 1 specific timing as to when exactly you should eat however there is this rule of thumb (and logic too!) that whatever meal you do eat, it is important for it to be digested and absorbed in the body first to provide any fuel.
If you indulge in endurance sports training, you may try eating a full meal, containing carbs at least 3 hours prior so that by the time you start your routine, you will be ready.
Or if you are just going to work-out at the gym or do a shorter routine, you can eat closer to your work-out period, but ensure that the meal is that much simpler and smaller one. Choose foods that are quick-digesting, easy on the stomach, comprised of maximum carbs and proteins are simpler so as to not cause any discomfort during the routine.
For quick carb sources, you may opt for:
- Bread/ toasts + jelly
- Any moderate-high GI fruits
For protein soureces you may opt for:
- Whey protein powder
Other multiple ingredient containing supplements that you can take in this period:
- Fat burners
- Green tea
Hydration rule 101:
In a bid to feed your body the right nutrients, don’t be the one to forget all about water. Without sufficient water you are as good as a pen without ink. Keeping yourself well hydrated not only keeps you up for long but even enhances your performance. Water and electrolytes are two most important components that you should always keep handy.
The ACSM suggests drinking 500-600 ml water about 4 hours prior to exercise and 200-300 ml of water 10-15 minutes just before workout.
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