Whether you’re a seasoned athlete, a fitness enthusiast or a new gym goer, proper nutrition before a workout is important to help fuel the body with the energy it requires. Your body needs the right balance of protein, carbohydrates, fats and fluids to fuel your fitness. Before a workout, a combination of carbohydrates + protein is recommended.
Carbohydrates are the main energy source that our bodies use to fuel our muscles during a workout. Without the proper amount of carbohydrates, our bodies won’t have the energy to get through a workout and this can result in low blood sugar and fatigue during exercise. Carbohydrates are essential both before and after our workouts for optimum performance, and can even be important during our workouts if you’re exercising for long periods of time. Food sources of carbohydrates include grains, starchy vegetables, fruits, and milk.
When we exercise, we create small tears in our muscle fibers. When these tears heal, with proper nutrition, our muscles grow. A small amount of protein before a workout, especially if you are weight training, is a good idea to help prime our muscles for optimum repair after a workout. Food sources of protein include nuts, nut butters, beans, greek yogurt, egg, cheese, cottage cheese, poultry, fish, and meats.
• Aim for carbohydrate + protein snack 1 – 2 hours before a workout
• Avoid fats immediately before a workout
• Drink plenty of fluids before, during, and after a workout
Peanut butter + banana
Greek yogurt or cottage cheese + berries
Oatmeal + fruit
Whole grain bread + peanut butter
Whole grain crackers + cheese
This was written by Ashley Bannister, dietetic intern at the Medical University of South Carolina.