by Sara Lindberg,
Why You Should Be Eating These 5 Foods Before You Hit the Gym
Do you hit the wall when you workout? I’m not talking about the actual wall you might hit if you flew off the treadmill—although that does happen quite often. No, this is the metaphorical wall that you encounter when you haven’t fueled your body properly before exercise.
If your current nutrition plan isn’t carrying you through your grueling workouts, you’re probably wondering if there is a better way to eat before hitting the gym. While the list of options is endless, we wanted to save you some time by choosing five food and meal ideas for you to try before your next workout.
Why you need to eat before hitting the gym
The benefits of eating the proper foods before a workout are both physical and mental. When you eat the right nutrients prior to physical activity, you will have more energy, be able to work out longer and harder, and you may even prevent muscle cramps. Not to mention your body performs better — which contributes to your mental focus, confidence, and ability to persevere through challenging workouts.
Most nutrition experts agree that you should eat your pre-workout meal anywhere from 30 minutes to four hours before exercise. Emmie Satrazemis, RD, CSSD, and Nutrition Director at Trifecta says other factors to consider when deciding the best time for your pre-workout meal include the type of workout, the duration of the session, the kind of foods you’re eating, and how your body responds to eating before exercise.
Now that you have some background about the importance of pre-workout nutrition, it’s time to plan out what you’re going to eat. And if you’re busy—like most of us are—having some snacks and mini-meals planned out ahead of time can help you properly fuel your body for exercise.
What you can eat before hitting the gym
Since carbohydrates are a source of energy for your body’s preferred source of energy, Satrazemis says they are crucial to your performance, especially if you’re lifting heavy weights or doing any high-intensity or quick movement exercises (think burpees, sprints, kettlebell swings, etc.).
She also recommends a small amount of healthy fat such as peanut butter, nuts, or avocado to help power long, slow duration workouts like jogging, flat road cycling, and swimming.
And adding some protein is also beneficial for fueling strength training sessions—plus, it supports muscle growth. Satrazemis says hydrolyzed protein powders found in shakes or liquid are a quick way to get protein in before a workout.
Protein Powder can be a valuable addition to your line-up of mini-meals to eat before hitting the gym. So, in addition to a quality protein powder, mix and match the following five foods for an energy-boosting pre-workout snack.
- Greek yogurt
- Almond or peanut butter
- Sweet potato (add some chicken for a perfect meal)
Snack and mini-meal ideas
The following suggestions are not necessarily meals, rather heavy snacks or mini-meals you can eat one to two hours before a workout. The closer you are to the 60-minute mark, the more important it is to choose foods that are easy to digest and contain mainly carbs with ample protein and a small amount of fat. This will help prevent stomach discomfort during exercise.
Plain Greek yogurt + berries of your choice. If you want an extra boost of carbs to fuel a longer workout that involves cardio, consider adding 1/2 cup of granola that contains nuts, seeds, and carbs such as oats, amaranth, quinoa, or millet. But if it’s extra protein you’re craving, mix in 1/4 cup of RSP TRUEFIT Cinnamon Churro to the yogurt. Greek yogurt gives you a decent amount of protein to help prevent muscle breakdown, while the healthy dose of fruit gives you some quick carbs for energy.
Fruit + peanut or almond butter. Sliced apples or a banana with 2 tablespoons of peanut or almond butter is an easy snack to eat 45 minutes before a shorter workout. For an extra long or intense workout, stack this with a fruit and protein smoothie.
Fruit and protein smoothie. A fruit and protein smoothie is a quick, easy-to-drink source of nutrients to have before you hit the gym. Start with a base that includes your choice of 1/2 to 1 cup of fruit (raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, frozen grapes, mango, or bananas), 1 scoop of protein powder, and 1/2 to 1 cup of almond or coconut milk. For an extra boost of nutrients consider adding peanut or almond butter, flax seeds or Greek yogurt. You can also opt for an all-in-one meal replacement shake such as the RSP TRUEFIT Gourmet Vanilla Milkshake.
Peanut butter and oatmeal protein bars. Combine 1 cup of oats, 1/2 cup of RSP TRUEFIT Cinnamon Churro, 1/2 cup peanut butter or almond butter, 1/4 cup honey. Mix using hands and press into glass dish. Let it sit in the fridge overnight and cut in the morning.
Oatmeal + protein powder + fruit + almond butter. This is the king of pre-workout mini-meals. Packed with cooked oats, 1/4 to 1/2 cup of RSP TRUEFIT Gourmet Vanilla Milkshake, 1/2 cup fruit of your choice, and 1 tablespoon of almond butter, this healthy combo will fuel any workout.
Sweet potato + Greek Yogurt
Heat up 1/2 of a sweet potato and top it off with 1/4 to 1/2 cup of plain Greek yogurt. The high carb, low glycemic index of sweet potatoes make them a perfect pre-workout food when you’re fueling for longer, more intense sessions. If you really want to make this a power-packed pre-workout meal, pair your sweet potato with a small chicken breast. Due to the higher fiber content in a sweet potato, choose this option when you have 60 to 90 minutes to digest your food before working out.