After getting your workout program in place, the very next thing that you absolutely must consider is what you should be eating before you go into the gym to do that session.
Nutrition is a huge part of not only determining whether you’ll gain muscle or lose body fat, but also on how well you perform during that workout session as well.
Many people often make the mistake of thinking that forgoing food immediately before their workout will allow them to tap into their body fat stores faster, thus increasing the rate of fat burning in the body, but it doesn’t quite work like this.
While it is true that you will not have as much energy to burn off before having the body turn to body fat stores for fuel if you don’t eat, the real issue to consider is that by not eating, you could be severely hampering how hard you’re able to work and that will then influence your overall calorie burn.
Since it is how many calories you consume over the course of the day that plays the biggest role in whether or not you see success, this is what you should be far more concerned over.
Let’s give you a brief run-down on what you should know about eating before your workout sessions.
Assess The Exercise Variety
The very first thing that you need to think about when figuring out what to eat before a workout is what type of exercise you plan to do. If you’re just going for a light, 30 minute cardio session, there really isn’t any need for special nutrition beforehand. As long as you’ve had a meal within the last four hours sometime, you should be fine to complete that session without worry.
If you’re planning a weight lifting workout or a sprint training session however, then it’s a totally different story.
In these cases, you’ll want to be sure to eat both carbohydrates and protein before that session to provide your muscles with the glucose that they’ll use to fuel each muscle contraction and the amino acids that will help kickstart the repair and recovery process.
Trying to do either of these exercises without eating first would lead to a very large workout failure as the body simply would not be able to continue on for much longer than a couple of minutes.
Choose Your Calorie Intake Appropriately
The next thing that you need to think about is how many calories you plan to take in. This will in part be determined by what your goal is at the time.
If you’re looking to add lean muscle mass, you’ll be using a higher calorie intake thus adding more calories pre-workout will be a smart move.
If you’re looking for fat loss, then you do still need to eat, but you’ll want to keep this meal lighter.
Most people will do well with about 300-400 calories if they’re aiming to build muscle and 200-250 if they’re looking to lose fat.
Time The Meal Correctly
The next thing that you must do is time the meal correctly. This does tend to vary from individual to individual as different people find they tolerate food differently before exercise.
If you’re fine eating beforehand and you don’t find you cramp up easily, then aim to eat your pre-workout meal about 30 minutes beforehand.
If you do suffer from cramping or indigestion, then aim for the meal to be 60-90 minutes before you hit the gym.
Don’t let it go longer than 90 minutes however otherwise you may find that it doesn’t carry you through to the end.
Get Your Food Choices In Order
Finally, last but not least you need to address the question of what to eat specifically.
On the protein side of things, many people do like consuming whey protein powder as it’s fast and convenient and will get delivered to the muscles at a rapid pace.
If you’d prefer something solid, then go with egg whites, white fish, or chicken. All of these are very lean sources that will offer high quality amino acids to the muscle tissues when you need them most.
For the carbohydrate side of things, you want to aim for something that is slightly slower burning in the body so you don’t suffer a blood sugar spiked followed by a crash. If that occurs, it’s sure to drain your energy in a hurry.
Go with something like brown rice, oatmeal, or whole wheat pasta. All of these will supply you with high quality energy that will help boost your performance.
Note that you want to keep fat as low as possible throughout these meals as that will only slow digestion and move you away from what we’re trying to accomplish here.
So there you have the facts about what to eat before you hit the gym. By planning your pre-workout meal properly you can ensure that you perform your best and move one step closer to reaching your goals.