I often am asked what to eat in order to have a kick ACE training session. Usually this is highly dependent on the individual however there are a few rules that you can follow to help maximize the pre-workout meal effectiveness. So let me outline my list for effective pre-workout meal strategies.
Include a Source of Protein
It goes without saying that a pre-workout meal should include a great source of protein. You need this to ensure that you have the amino acids to help you build muscle. For most people about 30g of protein should do the trick. If you are someone who is a little bigger than the average person you may want to have some more if you find that you do not have enough energy. A great choice for pre-workout protein would be a shake, meats, or legumes.
Include a Source of Carbohydrate
Unless the specific goal of your workout is to burn fat than a carbohydrate source is key. The carbohydrates are going to provide you with the energy you need to sustain an awesome training session. Utilize about 30-50g of carbs pre-training to be able to fuel intense training sessions. Without these carbohydrates your workout intensity will suffer and the training session will not produce the desired effect. Great choices include: rice, quinoa, sports drinks, fruit, or oatmeal.
This goes without saying however I still see people try to wolf down a gigantic meal close to training and than end up feeling bloated and having a poor training session or worse throwing up in the parking lot. The key here is your meal should be something that leaves you feeling satisfied but not over full or bloated. The closer you get to the training session the more you may want to consider reaching for a liquid options such as a shake, or smoothie. These types of drinks are usually more easily digested quickly. If you are 1 – 2 hours away from your training sessions you should aim for solid foods as they will take longer to break down in your system and provide more sustained energy.
This is likely the most important factor in your pre-workout nutrition routine. You want a predictable energy level day in and day out so that you can be consistent with your training efforts. Since consistency is the key to making progress in the gym, so too should it be the goal of your pre-workout nutrition. If you are constantly having to put together a complex pre-workout meal it will become a deterrent to your training and ultimately inhibit your progress. Keys: pick foods you can make quickly or have pre-prepared, utilize powders, fruit, and other quick foods to achieve the desired nutrients quickly, choose foods that can travel well for situations when you may not be leaving from home.