A Guide to the Best Food to Fuel Your Workout
Good nutrition is essential to fitness, whether you're trying to build muscle or drop unwanted weight. To make sure your body has the fuel to reach new heights, learn how to craft the ultimate pre-workout meal.
Timing Is Everything
In an attempt to promote weight loss, many people choose to exercise on empty stomachs. They may awaken in the morning and take a quick jog, thinking their empty stomachs will force their bodies to burn fat. In reality, because their blood glucose levels are low, these people's bodies are more likely to break down amino acids from muscle to fuel their morning exercise. On the other hand, by eating a small morning meal, the body is more likely to burn fat once its glucose reserves run dry.
At the same time, it's usually a good idea to wait one to two hours after a meal before working out. This is because the body diverts blood to the digestive system when food is present in the stomach. If you work out shortly after eating, you may inexperience nausea, muscle weakness, cramping and performance issues.
Which Foods Are Best?
While pre-workout fuel is essential to performance and weight loss, not all foods offer the same impact. Because they cause insulin levels to spike, juices, sports drinks and hi-glycemic starches rapidly elevate blood sugar and ultimately lead to crashes. Studies have also shown that hi-glycemic foods tend to promote fat accumulation, especially around the midsection.
On the other hand, because they take a long time to digest, low-glycemic foods provide a nice, steady stream of energy that can fuel a workout without crashes. Research has also shown that low-glycemic foods help to promote weight loss.
What Are Low-glycemic Foods?
Rich in protein and/or fiber, low-glycemic foods are usually unprocessed for the most part. They include meats, nuts, whole grains and most types of vegetables. Among the most noteworthy low-glycemic foods include:
- Red meat
- Oat bran
- Nuts and seeds
- Most fruits, non-starchy vegetables and carrots
It's important to note that, while whole grains are considered low-gi, processed breads and cereals will enter the blood stream faster. Ultimately, the less processing foods go through, the longer they will take to digest.
Eating after Your Workout
A post-workout meal is essential, whether you're looking to build muscle mass or lose weight. For about one to two hours after a workout, the body is in dire need of nutrients. During this metabolic window, it's important to refuel your glycogen stores by consuming protein and quality carbohydrates.
Regardless of your fitness goals, nutrient timing is critical, since the body deals with nutrients differently at various times, based on activity. Just make sure you consume quality carbohydrates and avoid high-glycemic foods.