We’ve all heard the saying before, “You are what you eat.”
But what does that mean?
It means that the food we eat plays an important role in our health, and our bodies’ well-being depends on us eating right. That even includes what we eat before a workout. In this article, we’ll explain why it’s beneficial to eat before working out, what to eat before a workout, what supplements to use, and we’ll even talk about the importance of hydration.
WHY IS IT BENEFICIAL TO EAT BEFORE A WORKOUT
You eat before working out for the same reasons you take certain supplements. You take them so you can have more energy, prevent muscle catabolism, and increase muscle anabolism.
Let’s look at each of these a little more in depth.
Eat for more energy – Our bodies use carbs for energy. The body takes the carbs we eat and stores them as a chemical compound called glycogen. When your body is in need of energy, it uses glycogen, which it has stored in different body tissues.
If you’re serious about working out, you’ll deplete these glycogen stores before you finish exercising. Eating the right types of food will help you replenish your glycogen so you can keep going. If you’re looking for more energy, be sure to eat carbs. Just make sure those carbs come from healthy food sources. After all, we’re not saying that you should eat potato chips before working out.
Eat to prevent muscle catabolism – If you don’t have enough glycogen in your body to keep up with your workouts, your body will look for other sources of energy. Usually, one of the first things your body will use is muscle tissue.
This is what’s known as muscle catabolism.
Your body will often break down muscle tissue so it can reuse the muscle’s amino acids elsewhere. This process, called muscle catabolism, slowly chips away at your muscle gains. It makes it even harder to stay in shape, gain muscle, burn fat and perform when working out.
Eat to increase muscle anabolism – When you workout, the main purpose is to improve your performance by strengthening your body. Preventing muscle catabolism is not enough. Not only do you have to stop muscle breakdown but you have to encourage muscle growth. This is what’s known as protein synthesis. If you’re exercising correctly and consuming the right amount of protein, your body will take that protein and turn it into muscle mass. Protein synthesis is what makes you stronger, harder, and better able to handle your next workout.
Not only is eating before your workout important but from a protein synthesis standpoint, it is even more important to refuel your body with proper post-workout nutrition. This is where the post-workout stack is the best option as it will help replenish your glycogen stores and provide adequate amounts of amino acids for muscle protein synthesis to take place and initiate proper recovery.
Considering these three, major benefits, it becomes obvious why eating before exercising is so important. Whether you’re looking to lose weight or improve your performance, what you put into your body is in many ways more important than how you exercise.
WHAT TO EAT BEFORE A WORKOUT
Most food can be broken down into three macronutrients. You have your fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. Each of these macros serves a purpose, but you don’t necessarily need all three of them right before you start working out.
Let’s look at all three macronutrients in more detail.
Fats – Fats actually play an important role in the body. They’re useful for protecting and improving the nervous system. That being said, they’re not the best thing to eat before working out. Sure, an ounce of fat has more calories than an ounce of protein or carbs, but fats are slow-digesting and don’t provide your body with much of anything that’s useful for working out. Fats will basically make your stomach feel heavy and make it even harder to exercise. It’s best to avoid fats before working out.
Besides, most people get enough fat in their diet without adding more on purpose.
Protein – You can’t encourage muscle synthesis without giving your body the materials it needs to do it. Protein is essential when working out. It’ll help your body start healing faster and synthesizing muscle. Some of the amino acids in your protein will go straight to work encouraging muscle protein synthesis. Others will actually discourage muscle catabolism. When you look at aminos such as leucine, isoleucine, and valine, you’ll notice that they help the body better regulate its energy and metabolism. It doesn’t matter what type of protein you’re eating, so long as it’s low in fat and contains all of the essential amino acids. You’ll want to eat complete proteins because you’ll need amino acids that can both prevent catabolism and encourage anabolism.
Carbohydrates – Carbs come in two primary forms. You have simple, high-glycemic carbs and you have complex, low-glycemic carbs. The simple carbs are good for short bursts of energy for short periods of time. Normally your body can digest these in 30 minutes. Complex carbs will give you longer lasting energy, but they take upwards of 2-3 hours to properly digest. Be honest with yourself about your workout, your diet, and your nutritional needs. Simple carbs are usually low on nutritional value and therefore should be avoided when possible. If you don’t need any more simple carbs, then you should stick to nutrient-dense, complex ones and plan your meals accordingly. For post workout though, the BEST thing you can give yourself is a simple, monosaccharide, carbohydrate like Ignition as it will speed up recovery and replenish glycogen stores faster than anything else.
WHAT SUPPLEMENTS TO EAT BEFORE A WORKOUT
There are a variety of pre-workout supplements out there that can help bolster your nutritional needs. Sometimes it’s hard to get all of the nutrition you need from food alone. If your stomach can’t keep up with your workouts, there are different kinds of pre-workout supplements for you to take. At 1st Phorm, we offer a variety of pre-workout and intra-workout supplements that can help you get the nutrition you need.
We recommend that you take a BCAA supplement and/or a pre-workout of some kind. These will give you the energy and amino acids you need to keep up with your workout.
DON’T FORGET ABOUT DRINKING
Water is also of vital importance. Drink it with your pre-workout. Drink it with your meals. Drink it while working out. And drink it while recovering. The importance of hydration cannot be overstated.
It’s recommended that you drink anywhere between 16-20 ounces of water before exercising and 8-12 ounces immediately afterward.
Water helps your body stay clean and hydrated. It also helps your macros and vitamins get where they need to go. You even need water to perform your best when working out.
Be sure to get enough water, even as you take your supplements.
1ST PHORM CAN HELP YOU GET READY FOR YOUR NEXT WORKOUT
1st Phorm has created an elite line of workout and health supplements catered to your needs as an athlete. We offer pre-workouts, intra-workouts, post-workouts and a variety of other nutritional supplements too.
Whatever your needs are nutritionally speaking, 1st Phorm has it.
Give 1st Phorm a try today and see the difference quality supplements can make in your life.
*This post was written by Will Grumke (@will2win50). He is a NASM Certified Personal Trainer, NASM Certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist, NASM Certified Weight Loss Specialist, NASM Certified Behavioral Change Specialist, and CrossFit Level 1 Trainer