People are always wondering what they should eat before a big workout. And they’re usually surprised when the answer isn’t “a protein shake.” A shake has its merits, but if you really want to maximize your workout, you need to eat the right foods beforehand. I know a few of you might be tempted to skip the snack before you exercise—after all, you’re trying to burn calories, right? Right. But skimping on the calories will only make you feel lightheaded and tired halfway through your session. Good calories will actually fuel your workout and boost your efforts (therefore maximizing your results). You’ll work harder for a longer amount of time. Sound good? Then chow down on one of these four power foods before you hit the gym:
Affectionately known as “nature’s PowerBar,” bananas are loaded with digestible carbohydrates (aka “fuel”) and pumped with potassium (which helps you maintain muscle function). Additionally, a medium-sized banana will keep your nutrient levels high throughout your workout. If you tend to exercise in the morning, make sure a banana is part of your pre-workout breakfast!
Oats are loaded with fiber, which means they’ll gradually release carbs into your bloodstream throughout your workout (again, fuel!). I know a few of you might shy away from the term “fiber” before you hit the gym—we all know where that’s going—but oats contain the perfect amount to keep your energy levels up, and your gas levels down. Aim for one cup of oatmeal at least 30 minutes before your workout.
3. Whole Grain Bread.
Once again, this delicious snack is a good source of carbohydrates (which, you should know by now, means fuel!). Plus, you can top it off with jam, honey, eggs, or turkey for some equally important protein. This pre-workout chow is an especially good idea for those who exercise during their lunch break.
4. Fruit Smoothies.
High in carbs and high in protein? What’s not to love? Not to mention they’re quick to consume and even quicker to digest. The carbs from the fruit break down quickly to serve as body fuel, and the protein is saved for later to prevent muscle damage. Try blending 1⁄2 cup of yogurt, 1⁄2 cup of fruit and 1 cup of fruit juice for a delicious and nutritious workout booster.
Remember, these are snacks—not meals. Too much of a good thing will result in indigestion, fatigue, or vomiting. Above all, avoid fatty foods and sugary candy. Fatty foods will sit in your stomach, making you feel bloated and crampy, while candy will likely result in a sugar rush, which could cause you to crash mid-workout. Otherwise, go bananas! I’ll see you in the gym.