As I sit here with a little snackage prior to our night 2 of training, a great topic came to my head: to eat, or not to eat, pre-workout?
I've had a lot of people tell me they have sworn off eating close to when they go work out because either A) it gives them a stomach ache, or B) they think they're going to burn more fat on an empty stomach.
I'm of the opinion that a little nourishment before you get your sweat on is far superior to going to the gym with a growling stomach.
Eating a light, smart snack before your workout gives you more energy to help push yourself harder so you can burn more fat.
While, again, I have no formal fitness or nutrition training, a little research has helped me understand the following...
The "fuel" your body feeds off of when you work out is carbohydrate stored in your muscles and liver in the form of glycogen. Before carbohydrate is tucked away in your muscles and liver, it enters your bloodstream as glucose (blood sugar), which your body can also use as a source of energy. So basically, if you eat something and provide yourself some carbs shortly before you work out, your body has not just 1, but 2 sources of energy to draw from -- the glucose that is still in your blood, and the stored glycogen. The extra fuel will help you go stronger for longer.
One other thing to know is that the glycogen in your body gets depleted by as much as 80% after a long night sleep. This means it is much more important to eat something with some carbs before a MORNING workout, to ensure an effective sweat session.
Wow, don't you just feel smarter now?!
Ok, now onto the fun part -- what exactly should you eat before your workout and when?
To avoid feeling sluggish and getting a stomach ache DO NOT eat a large meal shortly before you go to work out. Duh.
With that said, the closer you eat to your workout, the less calories you should eat, and the more you should widdle down the fat and protein content because those things take longer to digest than carbohydrates. So lets not stop by the McDonald's drive through for a breakfast burrito and hash brown on the way to the gym, capiche?
I like to have a good carbohydrate-rich snack about 90 to 30 minutes before I work out.
Here are my favorites:
1) Get your monkey on! Try eating a small banana -- it will give you good carbs for energy and potassium to help with muscle soreness.
2) A new favorite bar of mine is the LARABAR
These colorful bars-o-goodness are made from simple ingredients (the list is so short it's hard to believe--raw fruit, nuts, and a spice or two). They are also both dairy and gluten free, have no preservatives, and no added sugar.
They also come in TONS of delicious flavors. My favorite so far is the lemon bar.
Right now I've been eating 1/2 of a bar before workouts, but I will probably bring it up to a whole as we start running longer distances.
If you are interested in giving these bars a try and don't feel like paying $2 a pop for them at the grocery store, you can order them by the box online. You can try the sampler box or if a whole bar is too much for you, consider a box of the minis. There's even a deal going on right now for 20% off your order, until March 31st (use the coupon code LARBIGL11 at checkout). Your welcome! ;)
3) 1/2 of a Whole Wheat English Muffin with Peanut or Almond Butter (I choose Jiff Natural and Thomas 100% Whole Wheat English Muffins).
4) A simple, low fat, smoothie with fresh fruit. I really like Jamba Juice's Jamba Light Smoothies (I go for a small Strawberry Nirvana).
So if you don't already do it, consider grabbing a small bite to eat shortly before your workout, and see how it affects your performance. I truly think it makes a difference.
Have a fantastic night, everyone!