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The Ultimate Pre-Workout Meal Guide: Fueling Your Body for Optimal Performance

  • 5 min read

You need energy to work out, which comes from eating well and staying hydrated. But what are you supposed to eat and when?

This is Radix Nutrition’s guide to pre-workout meals and why they matter. Building a routine for what you eat before each workout is important, whether it means planning or simply having a good idea of what will help your body and mind.

Read on to discover the benefits of eating nutritious and satisfying meals before your workout and how it may benefit you to balance your intake.

Why Pre-Workout Nutrition Matters

There are several reasons why pre-workout nutrition matters. Many factors can affect your endurance and clarity, and being properly satiated is one of them.

Staying Hydrated

Fluids are frequently included in pre-workout meals, which can improve your general hydration level. Maintaining optimal hydration during exercise is essential to preserving performance and avoiding dehydration.

Mental Clarity

Eating a healthy diet before working out helps improve mental clarity and focus. Your brain can work at its best with a constant flow of glucose, which will keep you focused and mentally alert while you exercise.

Balance Gut Health

Before working out, eat a well-balanced meal to allow your body to absorb and process the nutrients gradually. This can lessen the possibility of experiencing gastrointestinal discomfort during exercise on an empty or full stomach, which can result in cramps, bloating or general discomfort.

Glucose Levels

Blood sugar levels can be regulated by eating pre-workout meals. Your muscles use glucose (produced when you eat carbohydrates) as fuel when you exercise. Doing this can lessen the risk of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), which can hinder your performance, potentially causing dizziness or fatigue.

Energy Levels

Your body gets the energy it needs from food to carry out physical activities. Since carbohydrates are your body's main energy source during exercise, eating a balanced meal or snack before you work out helps ensure that your body has enough of them. This can help you work out longer and harder at a higher intensity, improving your overall performance.

Recovery

Your pre-workout nutrition may also impact how quickly you recover from an exercise session. Eating a protein-rich meal may promote muscle growth and repair.

The Role of Pre-Workout Meals in Athletic Performance

To ready themselves to work out or compete, many athletes eat meals or snacks before workouts. These meals are intended to give them the energy and nutrients they need to perform at their best before their workouts, such as the Ultra Range. Depending on the athlete’s preferences, the kind of exercise, and the athlete's objectives, the timing and makeup of these meals can change.

The Science Behind Pre-Workout Nutrition

There is plenty of research surrounding the science of pre-workout nutrition. Some people prefer to drink whey or plant-based protein before a workout, while others will have a meal or snack. There are many ways to fuel yourself for an exercise to aid endurance, fortitude and recovery.

Macronutrients contribute to your overall levels of nutrition and readiness. Each one contributes different things to your workout.

Real-World Applications

study conducted in 2017 revolving around resistance exercises found that having 25 grams of protein increased whole-body anabolism (i.e. muscle growth) and performance recovery compared to a placebo.

Whole-body anabolism encompasses the metabolic processes in the body that support the synthesis and construction of complex molecules and tissues, which eventually result in the growth, repair, and maintenance of body structures. In short, it is a vital part of our body’s metabolism.

If ingesting or drinking a set amount of protein before working out can produce tangible results in both performance and recovery, the value of pre-workout meals, drinks or snacks increases. As research and technology continue to advance, we will be able to better understand and determine more specific factors around pre-workout meals and how better to incorporate them into our unique and varied lifestyles.

Types of Foods for Sustained Energy

Whether through ready-made meals or drinks, sustained energy can be found in various macronutrients. Depending on your goals at the gym, these macronutrients may vary in importance. 

Carbohydrates for Immediate Energy

Carbohydrates give your body energy through glucose. Carbohydrates also happen to be your body’s preferred macronutrient to find energy, as the glucose in them enters your bloodstream and finds its way to the cells throughout your body. Stored glucose is known as glycogen and remains in reserves throughout your body until needed.

Proteins for Muscle Support

Protein can improve your performance, recovery, muscle mass and strength. They are essential for muscle tissue growth, repair, and maintenance. Your muscles are made up of proteins – specifically the fibres, composed of contractile proteins called actin and myosin. You feed your body the necessary nutrients and amino acids through protein intake.

Fats for Longer Workouts

Fats can help with moderate to low-intensity workouts, fuelling your body for longer. The reason the energy you get from them is so sustained is because of the process of lipolysis. Lipolysis is what your body does to break down fats, releasing energy over time and providing long-term fuel for your body during workouts.

Timing is Everything: Nutrient Timing and Portion Sizes

Timing matters when planning your pre-workout meals. If you eat too early before your workout, you risk being fatigued and under-fuelled for physical activity. Eating too close to your workout risks bloating, cramps, and other stomach issues. Give your body time to digest and absorb the nutrients.

Note that your personal tolerance, exercise routine and body can result in variations for what to eat, how much and when.

Best Time to Eat Before a Workout

The general rule of thumb is to eat one to three hours before a workout. This can include having a balanced meal to give yourself plenty of energy and nutrients to exercise.

A high-energy snack or protein shake can suffice if you have less than an hour before your desired workout time.

Portion Size Matters

It all depends on how much you’ll be working out, what you’ll be doing, and your own body’s quirks regarding portion sizes.

Ready-made meals are an excellent option to tackle this, as they are pre-portioned and include a healthy amount and balance of macronutrients for exercising.

Sample Pre-Workout Meals and Snacks

Planning your pre-workout meals can be a hassle. You can follow a general outline for them, such as:

  • One serving of lean protein (for example, chicken, fish or tofu);
  • One serving of carbohydrates (for example, rice, quinoa or pasta);
  • One serving of vegetables (for example, leafy greens, broccoli or cauliflower);
  • Around 20 to 30 grams of healthy fats (for example, avocados, olive oil or walnuts).

Quick and Easy Pre-Workout Snacks

If you need something to grab and go, there are plenty of snacks to try out! These include:

  • Pre-packaged Super Foods,
  • Greek yoghurt,
  • Bananas,
  • Apples,
  • Your preferred nut butter,
  • Trail mix,
  • Protein bars,
  • Protein shakes or smoothies.
At Radix Nutrition, we aim to provide you with all the information and tools you need for a healthy lifestyle. To learn more, contact our team today.