Before you decide to eat anything, there are some characteristics that any pre-workout meal should have. An excellent pre-workout meal will help you get the most out of your workout and maximize your results. Luckily, even if you’re a busy person on the go, these qualities are relatively easy to come by! Here are qualities you should look for in your pre-workout meal to help you reach your fitness or career goals.
1. It Should Be Fast-Digesting
You want to get it down quickly and get to work. If your pre-workout meal is long digesting, it could lead to a stomach ache or discomfort that keeps you from enjoying your workout. On top of that, if it’s taking too long for your body to digest, you could feel hungry or low on energy by the time you start working out. Because of these reasons and more, fast-digesting food is essential in a pre workout meal. Fast digesting foods are high in fiber, which helps to speed up digestion while also feeling full with fewer calories.
Good examples of fiber-rich foods include;
- Nuts- almonds and walnuts
- Beans- kidney beans and lentils
- Whole grains- quinoa and oatmeal
- Seeds- sunflower seeds and flaxseeds
- Vegetables- Broccoli, cabbage, and carrots
- Fruits- blackberries, raspberries, pears, and apples
Fiber improves gut health too, so it will protect against unwanted digestive side effects such as nausea or cramping before hitting it hard at the gym.
2. It Should Deliver Steady Energy
Every serious workout needs steady energy. Your pre-workout meal should contain foods high in complex carbohydrates like fruits and vegetables. Carbs provide your body with slow-burning, constant energy to last through even your most extended workouts. They’re also essential for replenishing glycogen in your muscles—which depletes during exercise—so you can be ready to work out again tomorrow.
Suppose you consume around 10g of carbs per pound of body weight before training and 5g per pound afterward. In that case, it will maximize your insulin sensitivity, allowing for higher muscle glycogen storage. Choose a carb-rich option from every food group: whole grains, legumes, starchy veggies, and fruit. Examples include brown rice and quinoa, sweet potatoes; black beans; apples; bananas; leafy greens (spinach), broccoli, and cabbage.
Complex carbs offer lasting energy and enhance fat loss by suppressing appetite. Plus, these options are higher in fiber than processed cereals and other low-fiber quick fixes. You’ll stay full longer between meals when you have dietary fiber in your system, so don’t skimp on fiber when prepping for a workout!
3. It Should Keep You Hydrated
The key to any workout is staying hydrated and replenishing your electrolytes. If you’re feeling thirsty, you’re probably already dehydrated. Find a pre-workout meal that will help you stay hydrated, so your body can function at its peak performance during your workout. It should keep your energy levels high. Nobody likes that sluggish feeling after lunch, especially when we want to go out there and push ourselves harder in our workout!
With a balanced meal with enough carbohydrates and protein before working out, you won’t find yourself crashing or experiencing dips in energy mid-afternoon.It’s also crucial to note that taking excess water can cause an imbalance in blood electrolyte levels, which affects many vital functions in your body. To avoid those uncomfortable side effects, wait about two hours after eating before starting a cardio session.
4. It Should Contain Enough Proteins To Build Muscle
The first quality of a pre-workout meal is that it contains enough proteins to build muscle. Without sufficient amounts of protein, your body won’t create muscle effectively. The recommended daily (RDA) allowance for individuals looking to build muscle is .8 g per pound. However, it’s vital to increase your daily requirement for weight training days where you do cardio and weights so that you can recover from your workout even faster.
Protein helps maintain lean muscle mass and preserve the precious muscle you build during intense strength training sessions. Examples of good proteins for pre-workout meals are chicken breast, salmon and tuna fish, egg whites, greek yogurt, and cottage cheese. Eat healthy fats: Healthy fats can help you feel fuller faster, especially if you tend to get hungry mid-workout. They keep blood sugar levels balanced so you won’t experience unhealthy crashes after eating a sugary snack.
5. It Should Taste Good and Be Easy to Consume
First and foremost, a pre-workout meal should taste good. If you don’t enjoy your pre-workout meal, it will be challenging to consume in adequate quantities to help fuel your workout. In addition, your food should also be easy to eat. Preparing a complex dish for consumption during a high-intensity training session isn’t recommended. Instead, opt for foods that are simple to prepare so that you can focus on maximizing energy and performance during training sessions. Such foods include dried fruit, yogurt, nuts, and string cheese. Preparing these items ahead of time will also allow you to take them with you as snacks if needed throughout the day.
An excellent pre-workout meal should give you sustained energy. Running on a full stomach isn’t ideal either. If you overeat too close to your exercise session, you might experience stomach cramps while exercising or even have an upset stomach post-exercise.If you are consistent with planning out healthy meals and snacks before each workout session, you will find more energy than ever before! Keep an eye on your pre-workout meals and watch yourself grow more robust than ever before!