Fueling for Fitness: Part 2
In my part 1 post on fueling for fitness, I gave you a few tips on hydration. This post will focus on what you should eat pre-workout to perform and feel your best.
As a general rule, you want to eat about half the calories you expect to burn during your upcoming workout. Eat 1 ½ to 2 hours pre-workout, and your meal should consist of:
• 60% good carbs (about 40 grams) - examples: oatmeal, fruit, quinoa, vegetables
• 30% lean protein (10-15 grams) - examples: tuna, chicken, egg
• 10% healthy fat (less than 10 grams) - examples: nuts, nut butters, olive oil
• Note that the percentages may vary based on the level and length of your workout.
Good carbs fuel muscles and enable peak performance. They also keep your blood sugar and energy levels stable during your workout. Lean protein prevents the breakdown of muscle for fuel, and gives your muscles a head start on recovery after exercising.
Healthy fats help balance blood sugar and ensure that fat-soluble vitamins are delivered to your cells so your body can use them. Healthy fats also keep your joints lubricated and they slow digestion, allowing for sustained energy and longer workouts.
For Morning Exercisers, here are some examples of a pre-workout breakfast:
• Oatmeal (with no added sugar) topped with walnuts, berries and half a banana
• A low-sugar protein shake
• Ezekial bread (toasted) with pure almond butter and one sliced fruit (banana, apple, strawberries, etc.)
For Afternoon or Evening Exercisers, here are some examples of a pre-workout lunch:
• Steamed vegetables with quinoa
• Brown rice with chicken breast and vegetables
• Soup and salad
A balanced meal one to two hours before your workout might be all you need. But some people need a small snack about 30-45 minutes before a workout for an energy boost. Snack examples include: a banana, a smoothie; a Larabar or other all-natural bar. You want clean, fast-digesting carbohydrates, little protein, and very little fat, so the fuel is available during your workout. And all meals and snacks should be accompanied by water.
• If you work out first thing in the morning, you will want to have your snack before your workout and your breakfast meal after.
• The larger the meal/snack, or the more fat and protein it contains, the longer you will need to properly digest before exercising. If you consume too much food, or food high in fat, your muscles will focus on digesting that food instead of on your workout. That can cause stomach upset, muscle cramping, and energy depletion.
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