Today I want to address your pre-workout meal and how that can potentially have a massive effect on performance, recovery and your general feeling during the workout.
Focusing on your calorie and macro intake alone won't enable you to maximise your performance which is why I want to see if there are any potential changes you can make with your pre-workout meal to optimise your progress. When you're trying to achieve something amazing all of the small details matter which I shall explain below for you.
The first KEY thing you need to consider with your pre-workout meal is how easy it is for your body to digest. This is absolutely critical because when you train you will experience an elevation in cortisol which will in turn shut down your gut, making it very difficult for your body to process food at this time. As a result you need something which is very easy for the body to break down quickly. This is why I would recommend something like fish over beef for instance as the texture makes it a lot easier for the body to process, making it a much lighter choice on your gut.
You do not want to be going into the gym feeling sluggish and lethargic because the meal you've eaten is sitting in your stomach, this will impinge upon your performance massively. You can also take Udo’s Choice Digestive Enzyme Blend before your meals, as it contains seven active plant-based enzymes to assist the breakdown of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, soluble fibre, starch, milk sugar and fermentable carbohydrates.
Sustained blood sugar levels
Something else you need to really focus on is how your pre-workout meal effects your blood sugar levels and general energy output during the workout. For example, you don't want something which causes a big spike in blood sugar levels to then experience a crash half way through your workout. This will obviously detract from your performance during the workout, probably making you feel weak and hungry. This is why slow release low GI carbs are a good option with some fibre and potentially some healthy fatty acids to help balance the climb in your blood sugar levels.
Amino acid availability
You need to ensure that the quality of nutrients you're ingesting are very high to combat catabolism and to allow for fast recovery after your workout. This is especially the case for protein as the amino acid profiles within the food you eat are of paramount importance. You need something rich in leucine with a broad cross-section of amino acids, which is why I do like fish or poultry. Sometimes resorting to a multi-blend protein in your pre workout meal with oats for instance can also be another option.
To further improve the amino acid balance I do advocate using BCAAs/EAAs pre workout as well.
On top of all of this you do also need to factor in the time you consume your pre-workout meal to ensure that the meal has long enough to digest, yet not too long that you feel hungry again. Usually I feel 60-90 minutes is about the correct amount of time to leave between your pre workout meal and workout. However, you should focus on analysing how different times affect you and act accordingly as we are all different.
Written by: Neil Hill