Workout Fuel – Pre-workout nutrition

Written by Maggie-Laurie Spark

Food for Fuel

Your body breaks down the carbohydrates from your food into glucose and stores in as Glycogen to fuel your muscles.   For short, high-intensity exercise, your glycogen stores are your muscles’ main source of energy. For longer exercises, the degree to which carbohydrates are used depends on several factors including the duration, intensity and type of training you do.  Your muscles’ glycogen stores are limited and as these stores become depleted, your output and intensity diminishes.

Carb loading is a method used by athletes to maximize glycogen stores to increase their performance and involves consuming a high-carbohydrate diet for 1–7 days prior to a specific event or race.

Eating protein (alone or with carbs) prior to exercise has been shown to increase muscle protein synthesis. Other benefits of eating protein before exercise include:
*A better anabolic response, or muscle growth
*Improved muscle recovery
*Increased strength and lean body mass
*Increased muscle performance.
*Prevention of muscle damage

Fat helps fuel your body for longer exercise sessions once you have used up glycogen stores.

Top 8 Pre-workout Choices

1. Bananas
Bananas are packed with carbohydrates and potassium, which supports nerve and muscle function.

2. Oats 
Oat are full of fibre and release carbohydrates gradually keeping energy levels consistent throughout your workout allowing you to train harder for longer. Also a good source of Vitamin B, which helps convert carbohydrates into energy.

3. Grilled Chicken, Broccoli, And Sweet Potato
If you are working on building muscle mass or plan to hit circuit training hard, then this combo is a must-try as it is a perfect combination of simple carbohydrates and lean protein.

4. Dried Fruit
For a quick, easy and good pre-workout food go for dried berries, apricots, figs, and pineapple. Dried fruits are a good source of simple carbohydrates that are easily digestible.

5. Whole Grain Bread 
One slice of whole grain bread is an excellent source of carbs. Add some hard-boiled eggs for a protein-packed snack.

6. Fruit and Greek Yogurt 
Fruit is a great source of carbohydrates and combined with protein-filled Greek yogurt this is a great option to fuel your workout and prevent muscle damage and breakdown.

7. Caffeine
Caffeine has been shown to improve performance, increase strength and power, help reduce feelings of fatigue and stimulate fat burning. Caffeine’s peak effects are seen 90 minutes after consumption

8. Water
Good hydration has been shown to sustain and even enhance performance, while dehydration has been linked to significant decreases in performance.

When should you eat?
To maximize your results eat;

A complete meal containing carbohydrates, protein and fat 2-3 hours before you exercise. OR
Choose foods that are simple to digest and contain mainly simple carbs and some protein 45–60 minutes prior to your workout.