The best pre-workout food includes these 3 nutrients

wElimination has a long list of benefits, from improved heart health and mood enhancement to better sleep, but many people don’t realize that these benefits are actually quite heavily impacted by what they consume prior to one. sweat session. Getting your fill before a workout can not only give you more energy to kick your ass in that cardio or pilates class, but it can also help provide the clarity many of us need to get through.

Focusing on a snack that provides stable energy without stomach discomfort is key (this probably this is no time for your favorite fiber-filled cereal, more on that later). “The best pre-workout food or snack should include, without exception, 20 ounces of water plus protein and carbohydrates,” says Leslie J. Bonci, MPH, RD, CSSD, LDN. “Having water before a workout can increase strength, speed, endurance, focus and even reduce the risk of injury and dehydration, while protein, particularly before a strength workout, can help improve protein synthesis. muscle and prevent muscle breakdown “. Finally, Bonci states that carbohydrates are the primary fuel for training muscles. In other words, carbohydrates are what give us the energy we need to actually do the workout.

But does this mean that we should have a full meal rich in protein and carbohydrates immediately before hitting the gym? As you may have guessed, this is probably not the best idea.

“The ideal pre-workout snack should be large but not so filling that it gives you indigestion, and ideally eaten about an hour before training, but it’s also okay for 20 to 30 minutes,” says Frances Largeman-Roth. RDN, author of The smoothie plan. “The recommendation is to consume up to about 10 grams of protein along with one or two grams of carbohydrates per kilogram of body weight for the recreational athlete. So, if you weigh 150 pounds, divide it by 2.2 to convert it to 68 kilograms, which means you would need between 68 and 136 grams of carbs before exercise. To figure out where your snack should fit in, Largeman-Roth says consider the duration and intensity of your workout, as well as how long you need to digest before that workout. “An example of a snack with 68 grams of carbohydrates is a bowl of cooked oatmeal, plus a medium banana and a teaspoon of date syrup or honey on top.”

Another super easy pre-workout option that Largeman-Roth highlights, especially if you’re going straight from the office to the gym, is the Clif Builders Protein + Caffeine bars. “These bars work particularly well for strength training,” says Largeman-Roth. “They are also available in a delicious chocolate chip cookie dough flavor and contain 65 mg of caffeine, which is equivalent to a shot of espresso, plus 20 grams of complete plant-based protein. Caffeine gives you an extra boost before you hit your workout, and protein helps you build and maintain muscle. The bar also contains 29 grams of carbohydrates to help fuel your workout.

If you’re going for a workout more in the realm of yoga or pilates, Largeman-Roth recommends a cup of vanilla whole milk yogurt along with a teaspoon of honey and 1/4 cup of granola. “This combination is quick, easy, and contains 51 grams of carbohydrates and about 10 grams of protein,” she says. A frozen waffle, toasted with a tablespoon of nut butter and half a cup of sliced ​​grapes or banana is great for a run, says Largeman-Roth, who notes that this snack contains about 50 grams of carbs and about six grams of protein.

“Finally, energy bites are a fantastic thing for athletes to prepare and keep on hand,” adds Largeman-Roth. “You can do one or a few before a workout, depending on how long or hard you plan to train. Try my recipe for my Ultimate Power Bites [included below]. I take two before a three mile run. One bite contains 24 grams of carbohydrates and about two grams of protein.

Now that we’ve focused on the good, are there any less obvious foods that can aggravate your stomach or drain your energy when it comes to pre-workout noshing? “Anything that is very high in fiber or fat can be irritating to the stomach and can even lead to cramps or diarrhea during exercise,” says Largeman-Roth. “And for a lot of people, spicy food won’t work before training.” If you are training for an event, such as a marathon, it also suggests not eating anything new before the race. “Stick to easy-to-digest carbohydrates and proteins and products you’ve already tested on the road, no pun intended!”

And don’t forget that post-workout fuel is just as important as pre-workout. “It is important to focus on adequate hydration, both before and during a workout, and to focus on nourishment in the recovery phase,” says Maya Feller, MS, RD, CDN. That post-workout snack should include a mix of protein, carbs, and fat.

Frances Largeman-Roth, RD’s Ultimate Power Bite Recipe

Photo: Frances Largeman-Roth

1/2 cup puffed millet
1 cup of puffed rice
1/2 cup diced pitted plums
1/3 cup of semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup of sesame seeds
1/3 cup sunflower butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup of honey
3/4 cup grated unsweetened coconut


1. In a large bowl, mix the puffed millet and puffed rice. Add the diced plums, chocolate chips and sesame seeds. Combine the sunflower butter and honey. You should now have a nice sticky mess! Cover the bowl with cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

2. Put the coconut in a small bowl. Using a spoon, collect the mixture and form one centimeter balls with your hands. Roll the balls in the coconut and transfer them to a container.

You can store the treats in the refrigerator for up to a week or in the freezer in a zip-lock freezer bag for up to a month, but we bet they won’t last that long.

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