Best Pre-Workout Snacks (Meals)
What to eat before a workout? Fueling your body is an important part of your training program. This includes pre-workout and post-workout nutrition. Unfortunately, people often skip pre-exercise meals due to lack of time or not knowing what to eat. Just try our pre-workout snack suggestions to get the most out of your workout. These snacks will help to prepare your body for a strenuous workout.
To construct the best pre-workout snack (meal) possible, we need to understand the rate of digestion of different foods to determine meal timing. Furthermore, it is also important to develop your meal/snack based on the type and duration of your workouts.
Please read our previous post about pre-workout nutrition to find out exactly why these types of carbs and protein are the best choice, how much protein and carbs should you eat before a workout, and what is the best time to take your pre-workout snack (meal). Our previous post will give you some basic guidelines to get you on track.
Protein is important because it will help inhibit the normal process of tissue breakdown during a workout and accelerate protein synthesis during recovery. Carbohydrate is important because you will use glycogen, the carbohydrate fuel stored in your cells, during the workout, and a fresh supply of carbohydrate will help prevent glycogen depletion. Fluid is important because during exercise you will lose fluid through sweating and respiration to keep the body from overheating.
Meals of this sort (slowly absorbed carbohydrates plus slowly absorbed protein) give you the energy to lift weights at your highest capacity and provide the basic building blocks for additional muscle. Meals should focus on complex carbohydrates and contain enough calories so that your body is able to perform well during the entire workout. Avoid sugars and other simple carbohydrates because eating these can lead to energy crashes in the middle of a workout.
Pre-Workout Snack Ideas
Here are some suggestions for healthy pre-workout meals or snacks (portions depend on timing and intensity of workout, and on the individual athlete):
Choosing Appropriate Pre-Workout Carbs
The pre-workoul carbohydrates should be slow-absorbed carbohydrates, i.e. low-glycemic (low-GI) or moderate-glycemic (moderate-GI) carbohydrates such as;
1. Whole cereals
For example – Whole wheat chapati, dalia, whole wheat flakes, wheat bread, oats and muesli
- Cereals serve as better pre-workoul carbohydrates than fruits before intense weight training, as cereals supply higher quantity of carbohydrate and energy with lesser amount of fibre.
- Among cereals, oats (oat flakes) may be a preferred choice as they supply substantial energy without being too heavy lo digest.
2. Slow-absorbed fruits
For example – Apple, orange, mosambi (sweet lime), pear, guava and papaya.
- Slow-absorbed fruits such as apple may take too long to digest as they contain fructose and high fibre.
- Also, carbohydrate quantity in fruits is lesser than in cereals and may not be enough as a sole source of energy before an intense weight training workout.
Avoid fast-absorbed carbohydrates, high-fibre and high-fat foods.
Choosing Appropriate Pre-Workout Protein
Slow-absorbed first-class protein rich in branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) is the ideal pre-workout protein (20-30 gm). For example:
- Skimmed milk paneer or casein (supplement) is the best choice as casein is the slowest-absorbed protein of a very high quality (a strong anti-catabolic).
- Whey protein mixed in skimmed milk is the second option.
- Combination of egg whites and yolk may be included if both above options are not available. Due to its fat content, the quantity of egg yolks is better limited to one or two in the pre-workout meal.
Avoid heavy-to-digest protein. Chicken, fish and other meats are also slow-absorbed protein sources but would take too long lo digest and may compromise the blood flow to the working muscles during workout. Also, their biological value and BCAA content is lower than that of casein and paneer.
Second-class proteins such as pulses (dal, sprouts), soya, nuts and other plant proteins are limiting in one essential amino acid and hence cannot support muscle growth alone. They will not be adequate protein sources in the diet of an exercising person, especially not in the pre and post-workout meals.