If you are going to focus on performance and muscle gains, then your pre workout meal is just as important as your post workout meal. This is the meal that’s going to fuel your muscles and ensure good performance in the gym.
So what should you eat pre workout ? To answer this question we need to see what the purpose of the pre workout meal is.
The purpose of the pre-workout meal
– To maximize the energy and performance during the workout – this meal should ensure that you have enough energy during an intense workout.
– The meal should also contain components that will aid recovery after your workout session. You already know that digestion is a long process, it takes anywhere from a couple of hours to 7-8 hours to digest a meal, depending on the type of the meal that’s consumed. That’s why adding the right materials will ensure that the recovery will start even as you work out.
What should your pre-workout meal contain ?
Like we said, you should be generally looking for foods that will sustain your energy and provide enough building blocks for your muscles. You should generally stay away from fats before your workout as they will slow down the digestion and make your stomach bloated during the workout.
Fiber is another nutrient you should stay away from before workout. Just as fats, fiber will slow down the digestion and force the food to stay longer in your stomach.
That being said, amino acids are the building blocks, essential for muscle recovery and muscle growth. A good idea would be to consume whey protein about an hour before the workout, or some lean meat like chicken. Another option would be to eat a few egg whites. All of these protein sources will be very light to your stomach. About 20g of protein should be enough to kickstart recovery.
The energy you need will be provided by carbs. Something like potatoes, fruits, juices, white rice or dextrose would be the perfect choice for a pre workout meal. These carbs are easilly broken down to glycogen which is the primary source of energy for the muscles. About 20-30g of these carbohydrates will ensure your body enough fuel for the intense workout.
Some people like the feeling of their stomach being empty when they work out. In this case if you want to ensure muscle growth, a good idea would be to consume 15-20g of BCAA.
When to consume your pre-workot meal ?
The intense workout will cause your blood to go to the muscle group you are currently training. If that muscle group is a big one like legs or back for example, this means that more blood will go to that muscle group. This process will make blood flow to divert away from your stomach, postponing the digestion process. This is why it’s important to leave some time between the pre-workout meal and your workout.
If you are going to have a small snack then you should leave at least 1 hour between the snack and the workout. If your meal before the workout is going to be a bigger one, than leaving at least 2 hours in between should be fine.