The first rule to follow when choosing a pre-workout meal is: watch your blood sugar. In the meantime, don’t eat a pre-workout meal right before your workout, especially if it’s made up mostly of carbs.
If we were to consume an excess of sugar before training, we would run the risk that the blood sugar level will drop during the training, and thus energy and performance.
So you always have to pay attention to the glycemic index of foods. How to choose pre-workout carbohydrate sources? It is ideal to have a meal before training with an interval of about 2 hours with sources of carbohydrates with a low glycemic index.
- So we have enough time to digest the food and at the same time energy to support us during physical activity.
- If, on the other hand, the meal is much earlier than the training (more than 3 hours), it will be necessary to have a small pre-training meal.
- In this case, we must not exaggerate the quantity, so that we do not arrive at training with full digestion (which prevents us from optimal training).
- Furthermore, we can afford foods with a slightly higher glycemic index, because we need fast digestion and sugars with immediate availability.
- In addition, a small intake of protein before training helps and strengthens the anabolic stimulus given by training.
Nutrition must vary according to the type of training
We try to differentiate these indications according to the type of training.
For light exercise consisting of 30 minutes of brisk walking on the treadmill, you do not need a pre-workout snack. In this case, the energy requirement is very low and this training can be included at any time of the day.
In the case of endurance training (for example, long-distance running), our pre-training must certainly not lack a good dose of carbohydrates, which will help us have “fuel” for long training sessions of medium and low intensity.
This pre-workout meal (if done at least 2 hours before your workout) could be a plate of pasta or whole grains at mealtime, along with a source of protein and a modest amount of fat. If the training is far away from the main meals, you need to add a pre-training snack (about 60 minutes before), which can consist of white bread and sliced lean meat.
If the training lasts a long time and exceeds 90 minutes, it is necessary to take in carbohydrates also during the training (within the training).
- In this way, aerobic metabolism will be well nourished, which primarily requires carbohydrates as an energy source.
- In this case, it will be necessary to optimize the amount of carbohydrates received based on the athlete, the type of training and its duration.
- Usually, in these cases, maltodextrin-based gels are used, which are very quickly assimilated and immediately give energy available for training.
Even in the case of functional training, it is certainly necessary to prefer carbohydrates with a low glycemic index and to reduce lipids, which could significantly increase the digestion time. General rules for pre-workout nutrition also apply here. Special attention should be paid to protein: a small intake of protein before training helps and strengthens the anabolic stimulus that is obtained during training.
One meal consisting of basmati rice, natural tuna and tomatoes or wholemeal bread with an omelet can be excellent pre-workout if consumed about 2-3 hours before training. In the case of fast food 1 hour before training, we can choose bread with parmesan or lean sliced meat or 0% Greek yogurt with banana.
Meanwhile, measures should be taken by reducing daily calorie intake
In addition, even as part of preventive measures before and after training, we will have to slightly reduce the caloric quota. We will use different training and nutrition strategies based on your body composition.
For example, if you are starting from a situation of excess fat mass, but at the same time there is insufficiently developed muscle mass, in order to achieve healthy and permanent weight loss, it will be necessary to stimulate the growth of muscle mass.
If, on the other hand, we start from good muscle mass, a caloric deficit will certainly be effective, always in combination with good physical activity.