Get in Shape: The Top Three Whole Foods To Eat Before A Workout
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If you are new to working out or you just want to start making healthier choices before you lace up your sneakers, there are a few things you ought to know.
What you put into your body is just as important (if not, more!) than what you are burning. The energy you need to be able to complete a workout is essential to get your body burning off the right things.
The majority of your fuel source will be from carbohydrates, which are located in your muscles disguised as the name of “glycogen”. If your body does not have enough fuel in the right places, enough carbs to burn, it will draw fuel from other sources, which is not as healthy, and can be dangerous for your health.
Even if you don’t want something heavy in your stomach while you’re running around, there are so many light options that you can choose from that will get you moving and fuel you the right way. The worst thing to do is to skip a meal altogether!
As you go on, you’ll realize what the perfect amount to eat is for YOUR body and how much time prior to exercise (usually 1-4 hours) is optimal for YOU. Everyone is different. But to get you on a base, usually 4 hours before a workout is the time to eat a MEAL. Then a SNACK 2 hours before to replenish and put in fast energy releasing foods, then you can consume an energy gel or bar, fruit or a sports drink up to one hour before your workout.
Now that we have established that it is super important to eat before exercising, here are the various elements which are essential to fuel your body
Easy to digest and high in carbohydrates are two extremely important characteristics of the foods you want to choose.
Examples: energy bars or drinks, bread, bagels, fruit, pasta
- Our recommendation: Bananas! They are fast-releasing, and will provide you with the carbs and the amount of potassium that you need.
Any type of fruits go great in a fruit smoothie or shake. If you are really low on time and cutting it close to your workout, munch on some dried fruits and nuts. These light snack are bursting with energy and carbs.
A slow-released energy that lasts your entire workout is the perfect addition to your pre-workout consumption.
- Our recommendation: Oats. They contain fiber, protein and carbohydrates. They are known for a consistent and continuous release of energy.
Whole grain toast also works amazingly. If you add fruit preservatives on top, you will also get the carbs from the fruit. Make sure you are eating the right kind of bread and jam however, white toast and Smucker’s fully sugar loaded jelly won’t have the same results.
If you are aiming for a more consistent meal, it’s easy to get in your protein with lean meats such as chicken. Keep it as plain and grilled as possible, your stomach should have an easy time digesting more simple proteins.
Greek yogurt is also a dairy option full of high protein that will get you moving.
- Our recommendation: Egg whites. They are a great light option, especially for those who workout in the mornings and don’t want to mess up the routine of eating eggs. Just reach for the healthier option and eliminate the yolk!
These food groups are essential for your pre-workout routine and will help fuel you with the energy you need to complete your workout with maximum results. Again, we can’t stress it enough, do NOT think it is okay to skip eating or NOT eat anything before a workout and it will help you burn more calories! On the contrary, it can possibly harm you in the long or possibly sooner. Your body will hold on even tighter to the fat storage you have in your body because it doesn’t know when it will be getting refueled. Not to mention that instead of burning fat, it will start heading into your muscles, and that’s NOT what you want!
Here are some great combinations and examples of what you should be eating before a workout:
1. Tuna salad (light) with some whole-grain crackers
2. Chicken, turkey or lean roast beef sandwich on whole-wheat bread
3. Pita and hummus
4. Low-fat chocolate milk
5. Low-fat yogurt with fruit parfait
6. Any healthy or homemade type of trail mix
7. Low-fat string cheese and whole-grain crackers or an apple
8. Fruit and low-fat cottage cheese
9. Hard-boiled eggs without the yolk or cooked egg whites
10. Protein pancakes (in the spirit of breakfast)
11. Fruit smoothie with fresh fruit and low fat yogurt or milk
Another interesting fact that you might bypass is the “before meal” which starts right AFTER your workout. What you immediately refuel into your body in those essential hours or even minutes after a workout will prepare you for your next one. It’s called a post workout meal, and though we won’t get into it in this blog, we can assure you, that is just about equally important as the preworkout meal.
So, before you dive into your workout, go to the gym or burn off all the excess food you are eating during these holiday months, and make sure to take the time and eat or drink these preworkout options for an optimal and healthier body.
Not only is it important to fuel your body to make it through the workout, but it is also a great kick starter into actually LOSING the weight and keeping it off. Since your body won’t be starving, it won’t keep holding onto food as if it will never eat again. Eating and your diet is just as important as the actual workout, don’t ever forget.
Another misconception about working out and eating is the thought that just because you went and killed it at the gym you can pop into the nearest bakery to reward yourself. You are not a dog and you don’t need a treat. Taking care of your body is the least you can do because it already does so much for you.
Though of course it’s okay to splurge every now and then! But most of those treats will equate or supersede all the calories you just burned off, therefore undoing everything you just worked for.
It’s simple to remember this phrase: Eat to exercise, don’t exercise to eat!