I want to approach this question from two angles early morning training (before 7 AM) and the after work trainer.
If you don’t fit into these two categories, go for the after work training advice.
Training before 7 AM
My suggestion is down to personal preference, now if you want to train early morning what you have to understand is ,if you are wanting to have a really big breakfast you need to give your body chance to digest before exercise.
The problem with this is, you have to be up extremely early to prepare breakfast which in my opinion I’d rather stay in bed.
So my recommended tactic would be to have something very light such as half a banana and a small portion of nuts.
The most important aspect would be to refuel and energise your body with good quality nutrition after your workout.
So what does that look like ?
You could have your pre prepared overnight oats, egg muffins or scrambled eggs that you prepared before you came to the gym and not forgetting the convenient protein shake.
Obviously, this advice is all about personal preference and how you feel you can perform in the gym on not so many calories.
BE AWARE that if you have a poor quality evening meal the night before your energy will be low. Preparation is key and ensure that you are fully fuelled the night before.
Training after work
I know I keep saying this but, good quality nutrition it’s all about preparation.
You should’ve had breakfast, a good quality lunch. Meaning a fair amount of calories consumed and you’re ready to hit the gym.
So all we need to do is top up your pre-workout energy levels, and the same principle applies to breakfast.
Something light like a banana, a handful of nuts or if you had your lunch only couple hours before you train , then that should be more than enough to power through your workout.
Mentally, you put yourself in a position to get your head in the game. Some people think this is the hardest part. Not exactly. You spend so much time psyching yourself out to finally go to the gym that you forget to give yourself the proper fuel in order to have the energy to get the most out of a workout, not just to do the workout.
You have to make sure that you are giving your body the right balance of fats, carbohydrates and protein that will fuel your body and give you enough energy for an intense activity that is about to happen.
With proper nutrition before a workout, you will not feel hungry and fatigued. It could even help in the recovery afterwards.
Each person has a different set of fitness goals and nutritional needs for these goals. So let’s look at some of the food one can eat before a workout depending on your fitness goals.
For the general gym-goers, here are some examples of pre-workout grub that you could munch on. They could sure look like simple meals, but they do give you enough energy to last you the whole gym session and more.
They say that if you want to make the most out of your workout, then your go-to, all-time favorite fruit is the way to go.
Eat half a banana with one cup of water 15 to 20 minutes before a workout and it will give you enough energy to sustain you through and hour-long activity. It is also ok to eat another half-a-banana in between the exercise.
You can also use bananas as a base to your smoothies. You can put it on toast with peanut butter as well for a yummy pre-workout grub.
Bananas contain natural sugars that are duplicated in sports drinks, which are basically just sugary drinks. But unlike sports drinks, the minerals from bananas are easily absorbed, digested and transformed. Bananas also contains simple carbs and potassium.
These produce antioxidants that fight the damaging effects of free radicals that are sometimes released during exercises.
Oatmeals are great quick meal before a workout. It is easy to prepare, gives you energy, and the feeling of being full lasts long enough for you to keep going. It already contains complex carbohydrates that can provide nutrients for cardiovascular health.
Grilled chicken with rice or steamed broccoli
Protein and complex carbs are the best combination before a workout. Chicken are the best source of protein and fibre in your broccoli helps in digestion. Chicken contains good fat that will help you feel full until the end of your workout.
Scrambled eggs, avocados and toast
Eggs are packed with protein. The yolks full of amino acids. Avocados, on the other hand, has healthy fats. Whole grain bread toast has carbs. That there is a powerful meal.
Protein powders are easy-to-create snacks. You can add a handful of frozen berries for added nutrition—low in calories and extremely high in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
A handful of dried fruit
Dried fruit may seem like they have lost all nutrition but you are wrong. Dried fruit as good sources of simple carbohydrates. They are also easy to digest so perfect for a pre-workout snack.
If you are in a hurry, grab a handful just before your workout and you would have enough energy for your gym time.
Greek yogurt is packed with protein and carbs as well. Compared to the regular kind of yogurt, the Greek kind does not contain as much sugar. You can get just the right amount of energy to get you through an intense workout.
Not only will coffee make you feel more alert, give you energy and keep you awake long enough to complete a workout but caffeine also helps minimise muscle pain felt after a workout. Make sure you are drinking it black. No sugar, please.
If you are working out for a specific goal like building muscles, you will be needing protein and carbs. It is advisable to eat an hour before and eat a small meal before working out.
If you are trying to lose weight, remember to eat enough to give you the energy to complete your workout. But do not eat too much as it might derail you from your goal of losing weight. Remember that calorie deficit concept? Calories in and Calories out. This is what helps you lose weight.
It is advisable to not pack on calories especially for women. Eat just enough to fuel your body to help you complete a workout without yawning. Women do not burn the same amount of calories as that of men. That is why it is imperative for women to also make sure they are eating right to lose the weight.
Now that we are in the business of talking about what to eat before a workout, it is also good to note some things that you need to know what you shouldn’t eat before working out.
Here are some of the food that you should avoid before working out:
- Carbonated drinks. These are filled with sugar and the carbonation will make you feel bloated and it can also lead to cramps and even nausea.
- Spicy food. Spices can sometimes lead to heartburn and this is so painful you will want to skip gym time. It can also lead to cramps.
- Refined sugar. A huge amount of sugar or sugary treats before a workout could totally mess up your system. It could lead to a sugar crash and will leave you too tired to continue your workout. Opt instead for sugar from natural sources like fruits as the body will be able to process this more effectively.
Make sure to eat your meal at least 30 minutes or at most an hour and 30 minutes before hitting the gym. 30 minutes if you are merely snacking or a full 90 minutes if you had a full meal.
You need to test the waters as they say. Some food may bode well on your stomach but there are some that will totally ruin your digestive system. Also try to see if eating certain foods before a workout will make you feel bloated that it hampers your workout. If that is the case, then take smaller snacks instead like a handful of dried fruits for instance.