Nutrition is integral when it comes to the energy needed to perform strength or endurance training, just like the nutrition needed for recovery post-workout.
Why is there a need for pre-exercise nutrition? Fuelling up before a workout is required to give you an extra boost in order to maximise your workout, or else you will limit your abilities. Pre-workout food or supplement has an impact on your body composition, energy levels, immunity, mental focus, fitness level and overall recovery, Aman Puri, Founder, Steadfast Nutrition tells us.
Importance of pre-exercise nutrition
The timing and composition of the meal are important for improving performance, Puri says.
- Provides sustained energy
: Carbohydrates help fuel your body and delay muscular fatigue. A balanced pre workout meal supplies energy for longer duration to the body, which allows you to perform more reps before dropping out.
- Improves endurance
: It helps improve your muscular endurance and your stamina level. Although, few research studies suggest this and more studies are needed. In a study done by Jagim et al, 2016, the participants consumed pre-workout meal before running on a treadmill, they were able to run 12.5 percent longer than those the placebo group.
- May improve mental focus
: It might help enhance cognitive processes such as alertness, focus, reaction time, perception of energy and mood.
- May improve body composition
: It has been observed that long term consumption of a good pre-workout meal or supplement, when combined with a resistance training programme, leads to a greater increase in lean muscle mass.
What to eat 2-3 hours before you exercise?
Timings and type of pre-exercise nutrition have significant importance. A meal or a supplement, which is carbohydrate-rich in combination with some protein helps increase liver glycogen (stored energy) and muscle glycogen stores. Also, such benefits are more apparent in long-duration (<2 hrs) sports like cycling, swimming or workout, points out Puri.
He suggests whole grain sandwich (chicken/cottage cheese), a protein smoothie with nuts and fruits, oats pancake with a glass of beetroot juice.
"Furthermore, simple to digest carbohydrate-based snack or a beverage, else a carbohydrate-electrolyte drink should be taken 30-60 minutes before you exercise. Few food suggestions are -yoghurt and fruit smoothie with some sugar and rock salt, banana + beetroot and orange juice, a handful of raisins + watermelon juice. Since, beetroot is naturally rich in arginine and watermelon in L-citrulline, both help enhances oxygen capacity."
Do not forget to hydrate yourself by having up to 2 L of water 2-3 hours before a workout and 200-250 ml of water 30- 60 minutes before starting off, he advises.
Ergogenic role of pre-workout supplements
There are many kinds of supplements available, they might contain single ingredients or group of ingredients. They can be broadly distinguished into two categories:
- Pre-workout with creatine (mostly used by strength athletes)
- Pre-workout without creatine (mostly used by endurance athletes)
"Most of the core ingredients commonly used in supplements which act as an ergogenic aid in boosting performance are caffeine, B vitamins, BCAAs, electrolytes, L-citrulline, Beta-Alanine and Creatine. They help provide performance benefits like stamina, strength, speed, brainpower and give you a performance edge."
So, don't run on empty and fuel up! What you eat before exercise can greatly impact your performance and recovery. Pre-Workout food or supplement may act as a catalyst in performing better during a workout and to reach your fitness or health goals.
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