Tips to Fueling Your Body Properly Before a Workout
Whether you're working out to lose weight, get in shape, or because you enjoy going to the gym, there are things you can do to fuel your body properly before a workout. This article explores some of the things you may not have considered and busts some myths that you may have heard as well.
Check out the top tips to fuel your body properly before a workout!
Water is an important part of any diet, but if you're planning to work out this is a super important part of fueling your body. Water is necessary for our bodies to function at their highest level and it's important that you're not dehydrated while trying to work out and do strenuous activities. Make sure you drink water before, during, and after your workouts.
“Many of us already don't drink enough water every day,” says Ryan Rottman, Co-Founder and CEO of OSDB. “Adding workouts where you'll be perspiring and losing the water that you do have in your body can exacerbate that issue. We often remember to drink during and after a workout when we're starting to feel the effects of dehydration, but avoiding them by hydrating before your workout is an even better approach. Avoid muscle cramps, dizziness, and nausea that can follow a workout by making sure you're hydrated ahead of time.”
Don't Skip a Meal
If you're someone that likes to work out early in the morning or right after work, it can be tempting to skip breakfast or dinner to have enough time for the gym. This is something that can hurt your body and cause your workout to be less effective because you're not properly fueling it for the activities that are being completed.
“Ideally, you should eat a good meal filled with nutrients, proteins, and complex carbs about two hours before your workout,” says Shaunak Amin, CEO and Co-Founder of SnackMagic. “This gives your body time to turn the food into fuel that can be used for the workout. While this may not be convenient for people looking to work out before work, it really does make a difference in what your body can do.”
Carbs Can Be a Friend
Media and fad diets have made carbs into the enemy, but they're actually an essential part of working out. Both complex and simple carbohydrates can play important roles in fueling your body properly before a workout.
“So many of us have heard of low carb or no carb diets to promote weight loss and a healthier diet,” says Tyler Read, Founder and Senior Editor of Personal Trainer Pioneer. “However, carbs are some of the best fuel you can give to your body as you prepare to workout. Complex carbohydrates like whole-grain bread, rice, pasta, and potatoes are great to eat 2-3 hours prior to your workout. Simple carbs like white bread, fruit, or juice are better eaten just 20-30 minutes before your workout.”
Avoid High Fiber Foods
While we've covered the idea that it's important to eat prior to a workout, there are some things you should stay away from. High fiber foods can slow down digestion and lead to upset stomachs and a decreased ability to work out to your highest potential.
“High fiber foods can be great for your diet, but avoid them right before a workout,” says Dr. Payel Gupta, CMO and Co-Founder of Cleared. “Foods like legumes, berries, pears, avocados, chia seeds, and lentils can be a great part of a balanced diet, but eating them right before a workout can cause some digestion issues. Fiber slows down digestion to help your body absorb nutrients better, but it can also cause blood flow to focus on aiding your digestive tract rather than your muscles during the workout.”
Protein – But Not a Shake
Protein powders and shakes are a common sight in any gym, but why do people use them? Sure, there is a benefit to having protein in your diet to aid in building muscle, but is it beneficial to drink a protein shake before a workout? It turns out, the answer isn't as clear as you might think.
“While there are definite benefits to incorporating higher levels of protein into your diet as you follow a workout routine, it's not necessary to have a large amount prior to your workout,” says Christy Pyrz, Chief Marketing Officer of Paradigm Peptides. “Protein helps build and repair muscle, but many protein shakes come with a high level of sugar and calories as well. If you're chugging a protein shake before your workout and not using enough energy from it, you could actually end up gaining fat instead of muscle.”
Maintain a Healthy Diet Daily
Fueling your body properly can't be done in a single meal or snack. Realistically, you need to maintain a healthy diet at all times to fuel your body properly before a workout. Take a look at your health habits and food choices on a daily basis and look for ways you can improve your daily nutrition.
“Do your research and learn what your body needs,” says Natália Sadowski, Director of Aesthetics of Nourishing Biologicals. “It's a wonderful moment when you can identify the types of things your body needs because you understand the nutritional values of the foods you're putting into your body and you've learned to listen to its signals. This isn't something that will happen overnight. Research about nutrition, utilize apps and nutrition programs, and nutritionists are all wonderful resources to consult as you learn.”
There are many things you can do to help fuel your body properly before a workout. As you've learned in this article, it's not only about what you're using as fuel, but when you're using it. There are times to eat complex carbs and times to eat simple carbs. Meals should be eaten earlier rather than later and learning to incorporate the right amount of protein is more important than making sure you have a trendy protein shake. You also may want to stay away from those high-fiber foods that could be slowing you down.
Of course, water is a great component to ensure you have a great workout. You'll also want to spend some time learning what you can do to eat better every day to fuel your body for a workout. Hopefully, this article has helped you identify some areas that you can improve on in your nutrition goals so you can fuel your body in the best way possible.