Written by: Coach Slater
Ever tell yourself that you’re going to hit your training session hard, but find you only have energy for a short period of time, maybe one or two sets of your strength work, or get halfway through the conditioning piece and feel like giving up? Your nutrition could be at fault.
Would you plan a roadtrip, but not fill your car up with gas beforehand? If so, you’re not going to get very far. Just like in training. Typically, an increased focus on pre- and intra-workout nutrition leads to better performance and faster recovery.
If you don’t fuel your body and prepare it for exercise, you won’t burn as many calories as you would on a full tank. The more energy you have, the longer your intensity will last. You’ll run faster and weight will feel lighter, all because you have a greater capacity to move quickly.
The harder you work, the more muscle cells you’ll damage. This means when you refuel your body post-training, you’ll have a greater opportunity to increase muscle mass. The more muscle mass you have, the faster your metabolism will be, and the more you can eat in the future.
Pretty straightforward, right?
So, as a general rule of thumb, the further you are away from a workout (2-3 hours or so) you want carbs that are lower on the glycemic index (GI) scale. As you get closer to the workout (60min or so before training) you can get away with having something higher on the GI scale. If you train super early in the AM, it’s a good idea to have some higher-GI carbs 15-30min before your workout so you’re not training on an entirely empty stomach. Some good higher-GI go-tos are a carb/protein shake (like Driven Glyco Drive & Whey Protein from the Front Desk), some white toast, raisins, or drink your carbs in the form of 100% juice or coconut water.
But even the most quickly-digesting carbs can take up to 30min to really enter the bloodstream in meaningful amounts. That means that the first part of your workout can feel sluggish. So, try your best to eat 1-3 hours beforehand!
These are some lower-GI foods you can eat 2-3hrs prior to training, which means the carb is digested slowly in order to give the body a nice sustained fuel source.
1. Muesli (carb) + Chobani no-fat plain Greek yogurt (protein) – add a tsp of honey if you don’t like the tart taste of the yogurt
2. Tuna/salmon/chicken breast (protein) sandwich on whole wheat bread (carb)
3. Whole wheat bagel (carb) + low-fat cottage cheese (protein)
4. Oats with oranges, honey, skim-milk and protein powder
5. Large piece of fruit (mango/banana/apple/pear) + a protein shake
If you’re not currently eating prior to training, then pick one of these options, have it an hour or two prior to exercise, and I guarantee you’ll see a big difference in your training session.