Do you have a killer training program but notice yourself getting tired quickly or performing poorly? Well if you’re trying to reach your optimal performance, whether it’s at the gym or in a sport, your training routine alone won’t cut it. Just like a car runs its best on a full tank of gas, your body needs the right kind of fuel for peak performance Proper fueling of the body helps you to run efficiently while making you stronger, faster, and less likely to get injured .
Carbohydrates are a great fuel source for an effective workout as they provide the short-term energy necessary for your muscles to perform at their best (1). Stick to complex carbohydrates, such as vegetables, fruit, and whole grains, rather than simple carbohydrates, such as jams, white bread, and other high-sugar, processed foods. Complex carbs are absorbed by the body slower than simple carbs, which leads to a more sustained level of energy during your training (2).
If you’re strength training…
Your pre-workout meal or snack should consist mainly of carbohydrates (~75%) and some protein (~25%). The carbs give you the energy to power through your workout, while the protein will help you repair and grow your muscles (1).
Whole grain toast and a vegetable omelet
Greek yogurt with fruit
Oatmeal with egg whites and peanut butter, topped with fruit and nuts
Smoothie consisting of fruit, milk, and plain yogurt
If you’re doing cardio…
Your pre-workout meal or snack should consist mainly, if not, entirely of carbohydrates (75-100%). Carbs turn into energy quicker, which will keep you fueled for your cardio routine. You can add a small amount of protein, and even a little bit of fiber, to help steady the rate of energy and prevent fatigue halfway through your routine (1).
Slice of whole grain toast with peanut butter, banana, and honey
Oatmeal with mixed berries
Whole fruit with a side of nuts
Brown rice with vegetables
Depending on your daily schedule, you may have time for either a meal or a quick healthy snack prior to your workout. If you have a good amount of time before you train, consuming a small meal about 2 hours before you exercise is ideal. If you’re on a time crunch, eating a snack 45-60 minutes before you exercise is best (3). Remember, the best thing to eat always varies from person to person because some may take longer to digest certain foods. Listen to your body and notice how you feel after you eat to determine what foods best suits your body!