Do you know a perfect pre-workout meal can power your fitness regimen? Do not worry if you are clueless about what type of foods to eat before your workout for weight loss. This article will explore the best foods and drinks you can choose from before a workout to fast-track your weight loss and other benefits.
What Is A Pre-Workout Meal, And Why Is It Essential?
A pre-workout meal consists of foods and beverages containing essential nutrients and minerals to give your body the optimum levels of energy and strength required for working out. If you are a gym-goer, then a pre-workout meal is essential for improving your performance in the gym and achieving the desired results. A careful selection is thus crucial. If you experience fatigue during a workout, it could be that your body does not have enough fuel to perform. That is why you must consume a healthy pre-workout meal to optimise your energy levels and have a satisfactory training session.
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What Are The Benefits Of A Pre-Workout Meal?
Pre-workout meals are beneficial in many ways. Let us find out about them:
- Fuels Your Workout: When you are exercising, you are using up your body’s energy. So, having a meal before the workout is the best way to provide your body with the extra shot of energy it needs, especially for performing a high-intensity workout.
- Improves Focus: You could end up feeling tired, dizzy and distracted if you don’t get enough nutrition before your workout. So, having food before a workout provides you with the necessary macronutrients to focus on your performance and optimise your calorie burn while exercising.
- Aids Post-Workout Recovery: Having a pre-workout meal packed with proteins aids tissue repair and faster recovery after a strenuous workout.
- Helps In Muscle Building: When you are working out, you may want to build muscles and lose weight. A pre-workout protein meal is rich in amino acids helps in muscle synthesis, repair, maintenance, and growth.
- Prevents Muscle Breakdown: If your body doesn’t get enough nutrition before the workout, it starts converting your muscle tissue into energy which may not be healthy in the long run. Eating well-balanced pre-workout meals ensures that you lose fat and not muscle mass while working out.
Now you know how a pre-workout meal can make a significant difference in your fitness journey. Let us now read about the must-have foods in your pre-workout meal plan.
What Type of Food To Eat Before Workout?
The best pre-workout diet depends on your individual preference, age, sex, health, nutritional requirements, weight loss goals and the type of workout you engage in. If you are planning for a HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) workout, eating a combination of carbohydrates and proteins will provide you with the optimum energy levels for a power-packed workout.
Coffee, your go to pre-workout drink!
Coffee is a commonly consumed pre-workout beverage for its high caffeine content and the capacity to improve exercise performance.,
According to the International Society of Sports Nutrition (ISSN), caffeine supplementation can help improve muscular endurance and strength and boost your performance. The recommended dose of caffeine is between 2-6mg/kg body mass, but a lower dose should be sufficient if you are an average gymgoer. For optimum results, you will need 1-2 cups of coffee 60 minutes before exercise. Some people might have a few adverse effects from caffeine like sleep deprivation, anxiety, or increased heart rate. This depends upon genetic variation and an individual’s physical and psychological response to caffeine.
Another study shows that the best scenario for those looking to boost fat-burning during physical activity is a mix of acute caffeine consumption and aerobic exercise done at a moderate intensity in the afternoon.
-Lavanya Parthasarathy, PhD, CDE
For those working to lose fat, a light pre-workout meal or a snack low in fat will do the needful. If you want to gain muscle, have a pre-workout meal with complex carbohydrates.
Further, both men and women have different calorie requirements.
Let us look at the best pre-workout meal plan ideal for both men and women that can aid weight loss.
Pre-Workout Food For Men
- Carbohydrates: This food group is the primary energy source for the body, and it is advisable to eat carbohydrate-dense foods at least an hour before the workout. The body depletes energy faster than usual while performing intense HIIT and resistance training workouts and needs fast-absorbing carbs to fuel muscle fibres. You may have oats, low-calorie smoothies, bananas with peanut butter, a low-fat granola bar, and nuts.
- Proteins: For building muscles, a protein-rich pre-workout diet helps build, strengthen and repair your muscles during training and improve your performance. You can munch on protein bars, lean meats, scrambled eggs, and toast with low-fat cheese to drive your fitness regimen to the next level.
- Fats: Incorporating healthy fats by including foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as almonds, chia seeds, and other nuts can help prevent muscle breakdown during workouts and improve endurance.
Pre Workout Food For Women
Experts recommend that all women exercising to lose weight add loads of calcium and iron in their pre-workout meals. They can choose a pre-workout diet rich in carbohydrates and proteins but low in fat to boost energy levels, essential for healthy weight loss.
Eating a mixture of carbohydrates and protein before exercise can help in improving endurance performance. Adding protein to carbohydrates speeds up glycogen recovery when a limited recovery window is available or you consume inadequate amount of carbohydrates. It can reduce symptoms of muscle damage.
You can include low-fat yoghurt with fruits, oatmeal with banana and almonds, green apples, poached chicken with sweet potatoes, nuts and seeds in their pre-workout diet plan for weight loss.
Coffee, your go to pre-workout drink!
Beetroot juice has been demonstrated to increase endurance and efficiency without causing any negative side effects. The key ingredient in beetroot is dietary nitrates. In the body, nitrate can be converted to nitric oxide, which enhances blood vessel dilatation and eventually increases blood flow to working muscles.
Beetroot juice can also help in improving power, time to fatigue, and repetitions. Even though beetroot supplementation has been shown in numerous studies to increase endurance performance, its benefits may vary depending on the training status, with low- to moderate-trained athletes benefiting the most.
To reap the maximum benefits of beetroot juice, consume approximately 2 cups of juice or 384 grams one to three hours before exercising. Beets can be consumed in a variety of ways: cooked, as juice, or as a dried powdered supplement.
-Lavanya Parthasarathy, PhD, CDE
Now you know the recommended foods you can have before a workout. With this knowledge of pre-workout meals, you should also pay attention to the gap between your meal and workout.
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When Should You Eat Before A Workout For Weight Loss?
The timing of your pre-workout meal is also crucial for weight loss.
Here’s what you should eat and when:
- Pre-Workout Meal/Snacks For An Early Morning Workout:
It is best to have a light meal or snacks containing highly digestible carbohydrates with a low glycemic index (GI) for quick energy if your workout starts within an hour or takes place in the morning.
- Pre-Workout Meal For An Evening Workout:
Before an evening workout, make sure you consume a mix of carbs and proteins to refuel your muscles and aid their recovery. Choose simple carbs and high-quality proteins.
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A proper pre-workout meal is essential to fuel your body for longer workout sessions. Apart from the macronutrients such as carbs and proteins, your body also needs good hydration for enhanced performance and quick recovery. Take professional advice from a nutritionist to plan your pre-workout meals and make your workout more efficient to shed those extra kilos faster than before.