By Robert Gray
The food we eat provides the fuel for our body to perform. Like a car uses gas to power its engine, our body needs carbs, proteins, and dietary fats to “power our engine”. The internet provides access to a bevy of information that can be dizzying and hard to sort through. My goal is to provide you with clear and concise information that helps you identify the best things to eat before training in order to maximize that day’s training session and the long term benefit of your training program. Whether your goal is aesthetic, athletic, or somewhere in between you have to FUEL FOR PERFORMANCE!
Carbohydrates, proteins, and fats are the three macronutrients found in our food. Of the three, carbohydrates are the most effective and efficient fuel source for our muscles during moderate and intense exercise. This makes carbohydrates the priority for pre-exercise nutrition. Having a small amount of protein before training can be beneficial to aid in recovery after training.
Fruits, pasta, rice, bread, sports drinks, cliff bars and other nutrition bars, etc. are all foods with high amounts of carbohydrates. The one that is right for you is determined by the time between your meal and your training session and how easily your body digests that particular food. The best time frame to eat before training is 1-4 hours ahead of time to allow for complete digestion of your food so that your body isn’t trying to digest while training. This can obviously be uncomfortable and decrease performance. The closer to training you are going to eat, the lighter your selections should be.
I personally like to eat pretty close to my training sessions (approximately 1 hour), so I tend to have fruits, sports drinks, or bars that I know are easily digestible for me and have enough carbohydrates to keep me going for an hour training session. If you like to eat a little bit further away from your training sessions, “heavier” options like pastas, rice, breads might be more appropriate because they take a little longer to digest so the energy you need to fuel your training is available when you need it!