What to eat before sports? | The Best 10 Pre-Workout Foods
The benefits of eating before training
Let’s start with why you should eat something before your workout (“pre-workout”). Many people try to burn as much body fat as possible with intensive endurance training – but if you are not training between 6 and 7 in the morning, you should supply your body with energy before each workout.
You should imagine your body like a car – you can’t expect to drive from Munich to Berlin if you don’t have gasoline in your tank, can you?
If you want to train in the best possible way you have to make sure that your body has enough fuel to do it! If you fail to get the energy and nutrients you need, you probably won’t get the results you want as quickly – and over time, your susceptibility to disease and injury will increase.
1. give yourself more energy
In the body we use carbohydrates and glycogen as our first source of energy. This is because carbohydrates and glycogen can convert to ATP energy faster than any other macronutrient. This means that replenishing your glycogen stores before training will give you more energy to get the most out of it.
2. bend muscle catabolism before
When you train, the glycogen stores empty very quickly and therefore the body looks for new sources of energy – your muscles. By breaking up the hard-earned muscles, the body can use amino acids as energy!
This is BAD because it puts your body in a catabolic state that prevents muscle growth and recovery.
3. increase muscle anabolism
Eating the right foods before training not only means that you can replenish your glycogen stores. If you are a good protein source, you can also support your protein muscle synthesis and create an anabolic environment in your body.
What to eat before sports? | What and when should I eat before training?
In each meal you have to consider the three macronutrients carbohydrates, protein and fat (and in which proportion you take these to yourself).
Before training you should avoid excessive fat consumption, this is because fats are digested slowly, despite a high energy level of 9 kcal per gram. This means that fats do not make you energetic, but rather dull and heavy.
Meals before training that contain a lot of protein provide enormous benefits – they prevent muscle catabolism. If you take a good source of protein, you will provide your body with the amino acids (especially branched-chain amino acids) it needs to prevent muscle breakdown while promoting recovery and growth.
There are two types of carbohydrates: Simple carbohydrates with high glycemic index (GI) and complex carbohydrates with low glycemic index. So which of these are better before training?
This is mainly due to the goal you want to achieve and the time you eat the meal. Simple carbohydrates are great 30-60 minutes before training as they fuel your body with fast glucose. But complex carbohydrates also play an important role in your energy balance. If you take these 2-3 hours before training, you will provide your body with a slowly releasing source of energy. This allows you to train longer and the likelihood that you will run out of breath in the middle of the workout is less likely.
What to eat before exercise? | Timing
30 minutes to one hour before training
Have light meals containing simple carbohydrates and some protein.
2-3 hours before training
Have a meal with about 400-500 calories, which includes a good protein source (about 20g) and complex carbohydrates with low GI (20-30g).
What to eat before exercise? | The Best Pre-Workout Foods
Bananas are an excellent source of natural sugars, simple carbohydrates and potassium! Potassium is only stored in the body for a limited time – try to eat a banana about 30-60 minutes before training.
The banana is Mark Ross’ favorite food before training. It is even believed to provide more energy than caffeine. Eating a banana before training is the perfect way to boost your glycogen stores and increase blood sugar levels.
2. chicken, rice and vegetables
The clichéd, healthy meal of chicken, rice and vegetables is a real classic before training! By combining a good source of lean protein and complex carbohydrates, the meal provides you with the amino acids that support muscle anabolism and slowly energize your body.
Take this meal about 2-3 hours before your workout.
3. Greek yoghurt and dried fruit
Dried fruits have a high sugar and calorie content and should therefore be avoided in a diet. Nevertheless, this food in dosed amounts before training is excellent for delivering simple sugars quickly.
Taking dried fruit together with Greek yoghurt also gives your body a good portion of protein to optimize your workout.
Have a meal about 1-1.5 hours before your workout.
4. porridge and oatmeal
Porridge and oatmeal are the ultimate breakfast before training! This meal provides you with complex carbohydrates and is also an excellent source of the soluble fiber beta glucan.
If you eat oatmeal about 2 hours before training, it will satisfy your hunger during training while providing you with an excellent source of slow release energy. Try adding a spoonful of protein powder to your porridge! This will give you a great source of protein on top that will also protect your muscles.
5. fruit smoothies
Many people think fruit smoothies are delicious and super healthy. While smoothies give you some micronutrients that are beneficial to your health, they also give you a lot of sugar, especially in the form of fructose. Therefore smoothies often have many calories and what is often considered a drink is actually a full meal!
However, consuming a fruit smoothies before training is a great way to give you a good source of fast glucose.
6. wholemeal bread, sweet potatoes and brown rice
Wholemeal bread, sweet potatoes and brown rice are excellent sources of complex carbohydrates, which you should take 2-3 hours before training. Combining these foods with a good protein source will ensure that you are supplied with slowly releasing energy during your workout.
Carbohydrates should be consumed by everyone who is physically active, but especially by those who have regular endurance activities such as cycling or running in their program.
Last but not least: Protein Shakes! If you’re in a hurry and on the move, or if none of the above suggestions appeal to you, a Protein Shake can solve your problems before training.