When it comes to physical fitness and activity, people seem to think that the hard part is the exercising and working out part of things, when in reality, the most difficult part is what goes inside the kitchen.
Bodybuilding and getting in shape is considered to be, in terms of importance, around 30% training, and 70% diet and nutrition.
From looking at those figures, you don’t need to be a genius to work out the fact that, without the right nutrition, you simply are not going to be able to build any substantial muscle and/or burn away excess body fat in the process.
As far as your training goes, however, the foods and drinks that you consume on a daily basis are also going to heavily influence how productive you are in the gym, and just how well your body responds to the training stimulus.
For example, if you consume greasy fast food and processed junk for much of the day, you are going to feel tired, bloated, and lethargic, and you simply are not going to be able to get much done in the gym.
If, however, your meals are balanced, rich in healthy and nutritional ingredients, and are packed full of energy, your training sessions are going to be out of this world.
Before training and working out, you may find yourself hungry and craving certain foods and beverages.
After eating something healthy and balanced, however, around 30 minutes later, once the food begins to digest and the nutrients begin to be absorbed by your body, you will find yourself full of energy and raring to go.
Here we’ll be taking a look at a few ideas of what to eat before working out, and why, as we look at some of the top pre-workout foods and meals.
First up on our list, we have oatmeal, and rightfully so.
Oatmeal is considered a pre-workout bodybuilding staple, and it is enjoyed by bodybuilders all across the globe, as their pre-workout meal, especially if they happen to train relatively early in the day.
Oatmeal is a fantastic pre-workout food because it is a great source of slow-release complex carbohydrates that provide a slow and steady stream of energy and nutrients for the body.
For optimal results, consume a serving of oatmeal around 60 – 90 minutes before you train, and by the time you hit the gym, your energy levels will be through the roof.
Oatmeal is ideal because it is low in fats, it is rich in minerals including zinc and iron, it is a great source of dietary fibre, and it is rich in B vitamins that help boost immunity and enhance brain power and health in the process.
For an added kick, try adding a scoop of whey protein to your oats, along with a touch of honey for added sweetness.
When it comes to what to eat before working out in the morning, for some people, if you have already consumed breakfast and are due to train, at, say, 11AM, you may not have time to consume another full meal, which would leave you feeling full and bloated.
Instead, you may wish to opt for a small and healthy bodybuilding snack instead, to help fuel your metabolism and to keep things ticking over nicely.
Your snack should only contain around 200 calories, and should ideally be consumed roughly 30 minutes before you train.
You should opt for fast digesting carbohydrate sources that have high glycemic indexes, along with virtually no fat at all.
The reason you don’t combine fats with fast digesting carbohydrates is the fact that the body will digest and use all of the carbs for energy, meaning that the fats will be un-needed by the body, and so, rather than wasting them, the body will instead store them as body fat.
Ideal food examples include fresh fruits along with fat free natural yoghurts.
You can also add a protein source, so, for example, a white bagel with smoked salmon will work a treat.
High Fat Foods
People tend to avoid high fat foods like the plague when trying to build muscle and/or burn body fat, when in reality, experts actually encourage you to consume high fat foods before you train, providing they are rich in healthy fats.
In terms of what to eat before working out, when going the high fat route, avoid trans fats and processed foods rich in saturated fats, and instead opt for healthy fats such as polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats.
Foods generally rich in healthy fats include foods such as:
- Organic nuts
- Organic nut butters
- Oily fish
- Coconut oil
- Olive oil
- Grass-fed butter
- Grass-fed red meat
- Organic whole eggs
When consuming high fat foods before training, the idea is that the fats fuel your body and energize you for your workouts.
Fats are actually considered a fast-release energy source and are the body’s preferred source of fuel in the process.
People tend to think that carbohydrates are the best source of energy, yet, from an evolutionary standpoint, it is fats that the body prefers.
Carbohydrates, however, are much easier for the body to convert into glucose for energy, which is why you should not combine carbohydrates with fat when trying to fuel your body.
As the carbs are used for fuel, the fats are stored as body fat because the body doesn’t need them right away.
By consuming just healthy fats before you train, however, you provide a fantastic source of energy for the body.
A great example of a high fat, low carb pre-workout meal is: 3 whole eggs, 200g smoked salmon, 200g of wilted spinach cooked in grass-fed butter.
Those fats will fire up your metabolism like you wouldn’t believe, ensuring that you have one of the best workouts you could ever wish for.
Providing you have already consumed at least one whole meal during the day, if you really want to take your training to the next level, you may wish to consider using a pre-workout supplement.
These supplements need to be taken on an empty stomach, so ideally you should consume them around 60 – 90 minutes after your last meal.
This is because NO functions as a vasodilator, which dilates the blood vessels and allows more oxygenated blood to be pumped through them.
As more oxygen and nutrients are carried around the body, the awaiting muscle cells absorb more energy, so they function more efficiently as a result.
The Bodybuilding Special
For some bodybuilders, simplicity is the key to success, and if you’re happy with these types of foods, as far as what to eat before working out, you simply couldn’t ask for a better meal.
The ‘bodybuilding special’ as it is widely known, generally consists of a protein source which is usually chicken breast, turkey, or white fish, along with a carbohydrate source, usually a sweet potato, baked potato, or rice, and a veggie source.
The meal is rich in carbs, rich in protein, contains vitamins and minerals, and is low in fat.
The carbs provide a sustained release of energy, whilst the vitamins and minerals nourish the body, and the proteins begin initialising protein synthesis for adequate post-workout recovery.
It is nothing fancy, it doesn’t taste amazing, but it certainly does the job.