Does your spin class buddy or weight lifting partner swear by working out without eating a thing first? Do they seem to lose steam halfway through their workout, as though they struggle just to make it through another ten minutes of class, or another round of deadlifts? Ah, the power of potassium, fiber and protein before exercising. It’ll do your workout good. Here’s why.
Timing is Everything
There are two elements of your pre-workout routine that you need consider: what you eat, and when you eat it. Eat carb heavy and high sugar foods (anything that would be classified as processed breads such as donuts, bagels, pastries, etc.) and you’re being counterproductive. Even if you are in the habit of waking up and heading right outdoors for a run, or going to your Zumba class for an early 6am-er, going on an empty stomach is the worst thing you can do, simply because it can lead to fatigue, light headedness and the inability to make your workout really count.
Fuel Up For a Performance That Counts
When it comes to working out, food is fuel. If you’re about to go into the gym for an intense strength training workout, carbs are the perfect choice. They are what’s responsible for keeping your energy at an all-time high, and repairing muscles. Unlike protein (which is what you should eat immediately following a workout, which will help your muscles adequately recover from stress) carbs are the perfect way for your body to get primed and ready for a great workout ahead. Below, you’ll find a list of excellent fiber and carb options to fuel you up:
• Bananas. Bananas are many people’s go-to pre-workout snack, simply because it’s easy to take on the go, and it’s full of potassium (which helps nerve function). Eat one about thirty minutes before you start your workout (or slice a banana and enjoy it with a cup of vanilla Greek yogurt) and you’ll be ready to go.
• Oats. Oats are a fantastic way to get your carbs in before a workout. Packed with B-vitamins and fiber, having a cup of oatmeal or in a bowl with granola will allow you to turn your breakfast into energy…which is just the type of fuel you need to push through those last ten minutes of weights.
• Yogurt and fruit bowl. While a fruit or protein bar may be the convenient choice, it’s not always the best, as it can be loaded with carbs and sugar that you just don’t need. Instead, enjoy a pre-workout bowl of plain yogurt, topped with half a cup of your favorite fruit and a drizzle of honey (if needed.)
No matter what type of workout you may have ahead—running a few miles, building muscle with squats, or toning through a Pilates class—what you eat before you even get there sets the tone for your progress ahead. By eating something rich in potassium, fiber and the right kind of carbs, you can have the energy and the ‘umph’ to push through the best workout of your life.