A pre-workout snack can make a huge difference in your exercise! Not only can it provide the fuel your body needs (in the form of calories), but it can also help to speed up recovery and muscle repair by making the nutrients readily available. Smart exercisers will include a snack in their pre-workout routine, but knowing what to snack on is an important part of proper nutrition. Here’s what you need to know:
If you eat a lot of fiber before your workout, you run the risk of major bloating and indigestion. Fiber expands in your stomach, so that expanded fiber is far more likely to cause stomach pains and digestive upset when you start jumping around. Fiber is also broken down by the beneficial bacteria in your gut, leading to an increase in gas production. High-fiber foods are a no-no before an intense workout, so avoid legumes, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
Listen To Your Body
If you work out best after a protein-rich snack, load up on a bit of extra protein before your training session. If you can push harder after some simple carbs, make your snack primarily carbs. You need to listen to your body to find out what helps you to train better and push harder. Test a few different snack types (high protein, high carb, balanced protein and carb, high fat, etc.) until you find the type that suits your needs best.
Time it Right
The best time for a pre-workout snack is about 30 to 60 minutes before your training session. The larger the snack, the more time your body will need to digest. If you’re going to eat a couple of hours before your workout, consider having a smaller meal instead of a snack. 5-15 minutes before a training session, stick with a few hundred calories of simple carbs—with as little fiber and fat as possible. The closer you are to your workout, the easier the food should be to digest.
Go for Carbs
Carbohydrates are your body’s primary energy source, so they’re what you need to help you push through a tough workout routine. Many of us avoid carbs (especially empty refined carbs) because they are low in nutrients and more prone to raising your blood sugar. However, if you need a pre-workout snack that will give you a lot of available energy very quickly, those same empty carbs are your best friend. Your body can digest them in just a few minutes, and they will be transformed into blood glucose effectively.
Water should be a part of your pre-workout snack, or at least some form of liquid. Chocolate milk is a great snack to try, as it provides fluid, protein, some healthy fats, and plenty of simple sugars to be turned into energy. You can also have a glass of juice (hold the pulp). Either way, what matters is that you include a lot more fluid in your pre-workout snack to help hold off dehydration.
Eat Targeted Foods
When it comes to planning a pre-workout snack, you don’t always have to think 100% healthy. Your goal is to eat foods that will provide the energy your body needs, and fruits, veggies, legumes, and nuts aren’t the best choice. You may want to add a few more empty carbs to your diet as a pre-workout snack, especially if you’re going to pull a full-intensity, drawn-out workout session that will last more than 60 to 90 minutes. Target the foods you eat according to your needs!