As promised, today we talk pre-workout nutrition. But first, I want to make something very clear to anyone reading this:
I am not a nutrition expert–certified or otherwise. I am also not a world-class athlete, nor do I anticipate every attempting to become one. What you read on my blog is a healthy, common sense, every guy or gal approach to fitness and fitness nutrition. It is based on nearly 20 years of adult life experience, which includes both formal (thanks, military) and self education on the subject. If you feel your current health picture is not so good, I highly encourage you to speak with a certified/registered nutritionist or other qualified health professional such as your primary care physician. He or she can team up with you to establish a healthy and safe approach to recovery that is unique to your specific needs and lifestyle.
Okay! Like I stated above, these are just a few common sense things you can do to get a little more out of your current workout routines. Regardless of what physical activities you engage in, nutrition plays a huge role in your performance. What’s more, nutrition not only influences how well you do something, but also how much you get out of what you do. Remember…pay it forward.
Should I eat before a workout, and if so, when?
For that question, check out “To eat or not to eat…” from last week’s discussion.
Okay. I’ve decided to eat before working out. Now what?
I’d first recommend not eating anything within a two-hour window of starting your routine. If you opt for a protein shake, juice or smoothie, you probably don’t need to give it more than an hour to settle. A lot of that, of course, depends on what time of day you choose to exercise, what type of exercise you choose, and your personal preference (eating just before a workout just doesn’t seem to negatively affect some folks).
My Morning Routine
When I get up early to hit the weights at the gym, I choose not to eat anything first. I will, though, sometimes have a pre-workout supplement (powder mix such as Vega Sport’s Natural Plant-Based Pre-Workout Energizer). We can talk specific pre-workout supplements in a later post.
The important thing to keep in mind is that if you are going to work out in the morning, either get up early enough to mostly digest what you eat, or just work out on an empty stomach. If you’re really running on fumes, though (i.e. you skipped dinner last night), try to reschedule your workout if at all possible until after you’ve had a chance to take in some calories.
Also, be sure to eat something within 30 min of workout completion (ideally something higher in protein). Finally, if you’re not well hydrated, regardless of when you workout, you’ll almost certainly feel sluggish and weaker than normal. So stay hydrated. Too easy…
That’s good for the morning, but how about daytime or evening workouts?
When I take a “working lunch” at the gym, I obviously will have eaten something for breakfast and probably even a mid-morning snack. I pay attention to what those meals are, when I eat them, and how they might influence the quality of my workout. You should, too, but don’t make it more complicated than it has to be.
KISS – Keep It Super Simple
Instead of getting into the technical mumbo jumbo about which foods are most ideal pre-workout foods, let’s just keep it simple:
Eat healthy foods in lower quantity before your workouts
Eat healthy foods in somewhat greater quantity after your workouts
If you feel extremely tired during your workout, eat a little more next time.
Just be sure to stay within your daily calorie target. There are a lot of resources out there for that. Here’s one to try: FreeDieting.com. Bottom line: pay attention to your body and be willing to adjust your calorie intake up or down as needed.
It really can’t be that simple, Aj…
Honestly, it really can and it is that simple…once you see it for what it really is: it’s a lifestyle; not a specialized diet or exercise routine.
Ask yourself this: Do I want to be a world-class athlete?
If the answer is “Yes”: Please send me a quick note to say “hi” before looking elsewhere for information on becoming a world-class athlete.
If the answer is “No” or even “Dude…I don’t know. Maybe” : Then just focus first on being as healthy as you can be without making it so time and thought intensive that it becomes a chore before it even has a chance to become lifestyle.
Wait. What? I thought you were gonna…
Still, some folks may read all this and say, “Wow. What a disappointment. I was hoping for a menu and prescribed formula for a tight midsection and killer guns!” Well…you can go pick up a copy of your favorite fitness magazine.
That’s not me being snarky (man I like that word!). I’m serious. If you are really ready to take your current plan to the next level, several popular health and fitness magazines offer up some highly effective nutrition tips. I may discuss some more advanced stuff at some point, but for now…this is all “basic training” stuff. Establish your baseline and improve from there.
For the rest of you, here’s what I’ll do:
Tomorrow’s post will be a little shorter but will provide you with a list of some of my favorite meals for days of high physical output–breakfast, lunch, dinner and anything in between.
With that, I’ll sign off for the day with another, fresh Aj-ism to ponder:
How do you eat an elephant?
You don’t. You follow it around because a creature that big knows where the really nutritious stuff is.