Do you sometimes feel like you are working super hard at the gym, but not seeing the results you are after? If you head straight to training after work, you may not have eaten since lunchtime, or maybe since breakfast! Your fuel stores will be low, and heading into your session hungry and depleted will make it difficult to get the best results from your training.
Even if you are trying to lose weight, it can still be useful to have some fuel on board for energy, so you can work harder during your session. If you are trying to gain muscle then you also need energy to lift, pull, push and build. Regardless of your specific goals and whether you work out at the local gym or train as an elite athlete, nutrition can make a difference to training results and performance.
What to include in your pre-exercise snack
Protein is often the neglected nutrient when it comes to snacking, as many of our typical snacks are carbohydrate based (think fruit, biscuits, bars, etc.). Including protein in a snack will keep you full for longer, help keep blood glucose levels stable, and assist with muscle growth and repair. You can read more about protein in another post of mine Back to Basics Protein.
Carbohydrate provides fuel for muscles to work hard and for your brain to focus and get you through your session. Low GI foods are sometimes recommended before exercise for sustained energy levels, however many low GI foods are rich in fibre which can cause gut problems pre-running for some people. Play around with it to work out the best types of nutrient-dense carbohydrate foods that sit well for you. Amount is important too - if your goal is to get fit and lose weight you won’t need as much carbohydrate as someone in heavy training for a marathon. For more on carbohydrate for exercise please click here.
It's important to include healthy fats in your diet, however fat takes a while to digest, so it may be best not to over-do it pre-workout.
Snacks for pre-exercise
Below are some pre-exercise snack ideas that will help to keep your energy levels high and your muscles firing.
* Fruit salad with natural/Greek yoghurt and chopped almonds
* Rye or corn based dry biscuits with cheese and sliced tomato
* Fruit smoothie, made with dairy or soy milk, yoghurt and fruit (note – rice, oat, almond, coconut milks are low in high quality protein)
* Sushi roll
* Mountain bread wrap with turkey and salad
* Natural muesli with Greek yoghurt
* Vegetable sticks and wholegrain crackers with hommus dip
* Rice paper roll
* Soup eg. chicken and vegetable or minestrone
* Chia pudding made with milk and topped with fruit
* Banana and a handful of nuts
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Need some help planning the best meals and snacks for you? Look up an Accredited Sports Dietitian near you at Sports Dietitians Australia.