Pre workout nutrition can have a profound impact on the type of workout you end up experiencing. Going to the gym on empty is going to make you cut the session short and it won’t be as intense as it should be. Your strength will be zapped and generally, you just won’t want to be there. Here’s the general protocol that I’m currently recommending for pre workout nutrition.
Pre Workout Nutrition 101
The key to any good pre workout nutrition method or approach is to consume the meal in enough time. While the sports supplement business and its advertising dominates the bodybuilding nutrition landscape, a intra workout drink isn’t the best option. Digestion takes anywhere from 45 minutes with a simple meal to upwards of 2 hours with a more complex whole food diet.
Which option you choose depends on how you respond to whole food. Personally, I can not eat a whole food source, specifically lean protein, within an hour to two hours pre workout. My digestion just won’t be good.
Pre Workout Nutrition Protein: Consume 20-30 grams of whey protein. It does not have to be whey isolate but that is a preferred choice. Aim for a whey protein that has additional branch chain amino acids like Optimum Nutrition’s 100% Whey. Those additional branch chain amino acids will help to prevent and reduce fatigue during your training session.
Pre Workout Carbohydrates: I personally do very well with about 40 grams of oatmeal but I know that some people have an issue with oatmeal and feeling tired or sluggish after they consume it. If you don’t do well with oatmeal, aim for other slower digesting carbohydrates sources such as white or sweet potatoes or a small amount of fruit. I’m not the biggest fruit fan but the simple sugars pre workout will both power your training and help with the muscle pump.
Don’t go too crazy with large amounts of carbohydrates, our main goal is to increase fat loss so you don’t want to consume large amounts of starches. Too many carbohydrates pre workout will prevent the body from using stored fat as energy.
Pre Workout Fat: There’s a small amount of evidence that pre workout peanut butter might help increase fat loss but I really think the results are marginal at best. Keep the fat to a minimum pre workout. I personally don’t take any in.
Pre Workout Supplements: There’s a few pre workout supplements that can enhance your workout.
- 100 mg’s of caffeine: If you have an early morning session or just want to increase your intensity then 100 mg’s of caffeine will do the trick. Caffeine increases your adrenaline response to training which increases the usage of stored body fat for energy.
- 2 grams of beta-alanine: This amino acid will be a tremendous pre workout nutrition aid for individuals training with shorter rest periods and longer durations of activity. Wrestlers, mixed martial artists or anyone looking to burn fat. Throw this powder in your shake.
- 5 grams of creatine monohydrate: The best pre workout performance enhancer out today, creatine monohydrate will not only delay your time to fatigue during each set but it will also help your body retain more water. A more hydrated muscle cell has better metabolism and can grow faster. If your in MMA and have to make weight soon then I suggest you do not use creatine before your workout.
- 2 grams of L-tyrosine: Another amino acid that can have central nervous system stimulating effects. When combined with caffeine it can also increase fat loss.
To learn more ab0ut pre workout supplements and which ones are the best, check out this article – 5 Best Pre Workout Supplements on the Market
Pre Workout Food List
Here’s a random list of the best pre workout nutrition foods, in no specific order.
- Dark chocolate: Be careful with this one as it has a lot of sugar but it also contains tyramine and phenylethylamine which can increase your workout intensity. There’s better food options though.
- Any carbohydrate gel: They don’t taste the best but these gel packs are ideal for endurance athletes, runners and mma athletes since they carbohydrate sources are quickly absorbed into your blood stream
- High potassium fruits: Everyone is familiar with bananas but there are other pre workout foods like apples that helps to improve nerve function and muscle control.
- Greek yogurt: A lean protein source packed with healthy bacteria to help you breakdown your pre workout meal but its magnesium will increase your training power.
- Almonds: When you do consume fat pre workout, almonds are the preferred choice. Packed with magnesium and beneficial monounsaturated fat, this is the ideal choice for your pre workout meal.
There’s nothing spectacular about pre workout nutrition. Aim to give your body the fuel it needs to perform better and record how you feel and how your workouts are. If your getting stronger and feeling better after every workout then your doing something good.
About The Author
Jimmy Smith, MS,CSCS is a recognized leader in fitness and nutrition and has appeared in Men’s Fitness and Men’s Health magazines and on ABCnews.com and ESPN Radio. Visit his blog www.physiqueformuladiet.com for more articles, LIKE his Facebook page www.facebook.com/physiqueformula and check out his youtube channel for daily videos www.youtube.com/jimmysmithtraining