What to Eat Before the Gym
By Myprotein Writer Marc Barnard-Naulls
What and when we eat is always an important thing to consider, especially when your actively working to improve fitness, health and wellbeing through physical training.
Pre workout nutrition is probably one of the trickier questions as most of us assume that a post workout protein shake after training will hit the spot and in most cases it does exactly that.
So what should you consume before a workout?
Well that depends on a few things:
- 1.The time of day are you going to be training?
- 2.The type of training will you be doing?
- 3.Your training goal?
For example, someone training at 4pm every afternoon with main aims to gain muscle mass will require a different nutritional intake when compared to someone training at 8am each morning looking specifically to drop body fat.
With the above in mind let’s consider a few main variations:
- 1.AM Training body-fat loss
- 2.AM Training Muscle Gain
- 3.PM Training body-fat loss
- 4.PM Training Muscle Gain
Regardless of what time you train it’s important to give your body something that’s going to kick start your day upon waking.
A large glass of ice water with the juice of half a lemon and a large scoop of total nutrigreens will get your day off to a fantastic start.
It’s essential to remain hydrated throughout the day drinking water in the morning can hydrate the body, and the lemon cleanses the liver, balances the body’s PH and provides a huge hit of vitamin C . Adding a scoop of total nutrigreens provides key vitamins, enzymes, minerals and proteins which can prepare your body for the day ahead.
Now for the variations.
1. AM Training body-fat loss
If you are then going to an AM training session to shed body-fat then that drink may very well be enough as… although not for the faint hearted… fasted cardio in the morning is a very effective way to shed fat.
I would however suggest adding a scoop of BCAA 4:1:1 to your morning drink as this will provide added energy without any additional calories.
2. AM Training Muscle Gain
If you are a morning trainer looking to gain your options are more varied. In addition to your ice water combo add some calories and protein to set you up for weight training.
I do not suggest consuming carbohydrates at this point as I always consider them a treat to be saved for after training but getting some protein and dare I say it fat into your body 30 – 60 minutes before training will definitely pay off.
I have a super smoothie recipe that I have every morning on weight training days that never fails to taste great and provide me with all that I need for a productive workout.
The smoothie contains:
- -1 scoop impact whey (muscle growth and maintenance)
- -1 scoop frozen blueberries (powerful antioxidant, source of vitamin C)
- -1 tbsp almond butter (protein and monounsaturated fat)
- -1 banana (high in potassium, lowers blood sugar and free radical protection)
- -1 scoop flax seed powder (source of fibre and fatty acids)
- -1 glass almond milk (low calories, source of vitamin B)
This recipe can be altered to your liking, add more fruit perhaps some chia seeds for extra protein?
The brilliance of smoothies is that they can be changed so easily and once you’ve found one to suit your taste the combination they never get boring.
3.PM Training body-fat Loss
Similar principles apply here as with AM body-fat loss. Don’t fill your body with excess calories prior to cardio as you are just giving yourself a bigger hill to climb, save the treat until afterwards and just provide yourself with the nutrition required to provide the energy required to have an active cardio session.
A banana and a large glass of water with BCAA 4:1:1 will provide you with the energy and protein synthesis to get into a fat burning zone throughout your workout without creating excess calories.
4.PM Training Muscle Gain
Lean protein with a leafy salad or a combination of steamed greens is ideal 40 – 60 minutes before a workout. You may wish to add some quality carbohydrates at this point like spelt or sweet potato to give you that extra energy for the strenuous session ahead and whilst I still prefer to save my carbs for post workout one of my favourite strength training meals is:
- -Lean beef meatballs (Protein, Zinc, fatty acids)
- -Cavolo Nero Cabbage (Iron, free radical protection)
- -Organic Spelt (Zinc, magnesium, selenium, protein)
- -Tomato Ragu (Vitamins A,C & E, potassium)
This is just an example meal that suits this time of day for this type of training and take a little preparation but can be made in bulk well in advance and frozen into handy portions.
A Take Home Message
If you keep in mind some key principles you should have some of the basic information you need for beneficial pre workout nutrition:
- 1. Hydrate and detoxify the body first thing in the morning
- 2. If looking to strip fat keep pre workout calories low
- 3. BCAAs are an effective supplement to provide energy and protein synthesis without adding calories
- 4. Pre workout protein is an important addition if looking to add muscle mass.