Pre-workout nutrition is very important. You can’t just go to the gym and expect to build muscle and burn fat efficiently if we don’t have anything in our stomach.
If you work at the office until 5 or 6 at night and you go to the gym without going to take a bite first, you’ll feel like you don’t have energy and you can’t lift the weight and you won’t be able to train as hard.
The main purpose of having a pre-workout meal or snack is to provide your body with an energy and hydration source that will last you throughout your workout routine and prevent your muscles from getting catabolic too soon.
But before I say anything more, allow me to clarify what I mean by pre-workout. Now, pre-workout is the period of time leading to the time you hit the gym to workout. This period can stretch back to as far as 3 to 4 hours before you go to the gym and end right before you step on the gym’s floor.
Having that said, you must eat larger meals (600 to 800 calories) at least 3 to 4 hours before your workout. This provides your body with enough time to digest the food and use it as energy once you hit the gym. You can have lighter meals (400 to 500 calories) 2 to 3 hours prior to working out, but you shouldn’t have significantly-sized meal if you are only 2 hours from your weight training session.
If you are already that close to your time at the gym, what you can do is to have a tall glass of protein powder drink like whey protein. The reason for this is because whey protein gets ingested very quickly by your body and provides your body with the energy it needs fast. On a side note, it is for this same reason that having whey protein after your workout is also very good. Since whey protein gets absorbed by your body fast, it can contribute in minimizing the effects of catabolism on your muscles.
Anyway, in addition to supplying your body with the energy it needs, whey protein also provides your body with the right amino acid profile for muscle building, strength, and recovery. Some people prefer protein drinks over solid meals (for pre-workout nutrition) because they don’t make their stomach feel very full.
Protein drinks aside, what you need to have prior to a workout is a lot of carbohydrates and a moderate amount of protein. The carbohydrates will provide your body with the fuel it needs to get you through your training and the protein will help to stave off hunger. You may want to distance yourself from high-fiber or gaseous foods like beans and broccoli since they can increase your risk of gas and stomach discomfort. Surely you don’t want to have that in the gym.
Some of the things you can have before you head for the gym are cereal with low-fat milk, whole grain toast with peanut butter, whole grain bread and chicken breast, salad with light dressing, and grilled chicken with wheat pasta.