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6 Best Foods to Eat Before a Workout

Boost in focus and performance while you are in the gym.

Below you will find a list of 6 best foods to eat before a workout.

Having a pre-workout snack can offer several positive benefits to enhance your exercise performance and overall fitness experience. First and foremost, a well-timed snack provides your body with a readily available source of energy. Carbohydrates in your pre-workout snack are particularly crucial as they are the body’s preferred and efficient fuel source. Consuming carbohydrates before exercising helps replenish glycogen stores in your muscles, providing the energy needed for sustained physical exertion.

Secondly, pre-workout foods can contribute to improved focus and mental clarity during your exercise session. Nutrient-rich snacks that include a balance of carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats can help stabilize blood sugar levels. This steadiness in blood sugar prevents energy crashes and helps maintain mental alertness throughout your workout. When your brain has a stable supply of glucose from the pre-workout snack, you’re better equipped to stay focused, make sound decisions during your routine, and push through challenging exercises with greater efficiency.

Additionally, having a pre-workout snack aids in muscle preservation and recovery. Including protein in your snack helps prevent muscle breakdown during exercise, especially in situations where there’s an extended gap between meals. The protein component supports muscle repair and growth, ensuring that your body is in an optimal state for recovery post-workout. Overall, a thoughtfully chosen pre-workout snack acts as a fuel reservoir, enhances mental acuity, and supports muscle integrity, contributing to a more effective and satisfying exercise session.

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Raise your game

Taking all that into consideration, Max Posternak created a list of the 6 best foods to eat before a workout. Max Posternak is the founder of Gravity Transformation, a website focused on giving tips and training guidance for people looking to improve their fitness and lose weight. His YouTube channel has over 5 million subscribers.

See it for yourself and consume these foods before hitting hard in the gym.

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6 Best Foods to Eat Before a Workout

The nutritional choices you make wield a substantial influence not only on your physical appearance but also on your overall performance. Choosing the right foods can furnish you with heightened energy levels, a sharper mental acuity, and a marked improvement in your gym performance.

While there are myriad ways to structure your pre-workout meals—commonly involving a combination of protein and carbs like chicken and rice, scrambled eggs with Ezekiel bread and veggies, or oatmeal with protein powder and berries—Posternak likes to divert from the standard enumeration of well-known proteins, carbs, and fats. Instead, he talked about 6 extraordinary foods and beverages acknowledged for their compelling effects on performance.

First on the list is hot peppers, specifically known for the presence of capsaicin—the compound responsible for the fiery heat in chilli peppers. Surprisingly, research suggests that consuming capsaicin before a workout enhances the number of reps per set. In a study involving ten trained men performing squats, those who ingested 12 milligrams of capsaicin 45 minutes before the workout completed more reps than those who took a placebo, Posternak explains.

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Potential explanations include the elevation of the pain threshold and its impact on calcium release from muscle cells, benefiting the central nervous system. While consuming a significant amount of chilli pepper may be impractical for some, supplements like oleoresin red peppers, with high capsaicin content, offer a viable alternative.

Moving on to beetroot, it emerges as an often-overlooked powerhouse. Rich in nitrates, beetroot aids in the production of nitric oxide, promoting vasodilation and improved blood flow. Consuming beetroot before a workout not only enhances the “pump” but also contributes to improved aerobic endurance, energy output, and muscle recovery between sets.

While incorporating sufficient beetroot into the diet may pose a challenge, beetroot juice offers a concentrated solution, with around 500 millilitres being the recommended amount for optimal benefits.

Casein, a protein source, enters the spotlight as a noteworthy pre-workout choice. While many lean towards whey protein due to its faster digestion, casein stands out for its ability to prevent muscle protein breakdown for a more extended period. In a study comparing the effects of casein and whey on body composition and strength gains, the casein group demonstrated superior results.

Its unique peptide component contributes to improved nitrogen retention and overall anticatabolic effects, making it an ideal pre-workout protein, particularly when combined with options like oatmeal and skim milk.

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A Healthy Dry Oat meal in a wooden spoon
Oats

Oatmeal, despite mixed research on pre-workout carbs, is highlighted for its benefits, especially in a calorie-restricted diet. As dieting reduces muscle glycogen stores, incorporating pre-workout carbs, such as oatmeal, helps replenish glycogen and potentially improves performance.

With a decent amount of fibre, oatmeal facilitates gradual carb release, preventing low blood sugar symptoms during training. Additionally, oatmeal contains a notable amount of protein, distinguishing it from most other carb sources.

Coffee with L-Theanine offers a simpler alternative to complex pre-workout formulas, leveraging caffeine as the primary stimulant. Adding L-Theanine to coffee enhances caffeine’s positive effects while mitigating negatives like increased anxiety and blood pressure.

The recommended ratio of caffeine to L-Theanine is 1 to 2, providing an optimal balance for most individuals. Caffeine, known for its role in suppressing fatigue and enhancing focus, strength, power, and endurance, should be consumed judiciously to avoid tolerance. If tolerance has developed, abstaining from caffeine sources for two weeks helps reset tolerance levels.

Last but not least, watermelon emerges as a valuable pre-workout option, often considered a superior source of citrulline. Citrulline, an amino acid, converts into arginine, promoting nitric oxide production and improving blood flow.

Research suggests that citrulline enhances gym performance by increasing blood flow to muscles, aiding in clearing muscle fatigue markers, and reducing lactic acid accumulation. Watermelon can serve as an alternative to beetroot, offering similar benefits.

Incorporating these 6 valuable pre-workout foods into your diet holds the promise of enhancing your performance and, consequently, delivering superior results.

For a full explanation of each of the foods listed above in video format, simply click below for Posternak’s insights.

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Massage

Massages prompt self-myofascial release. A popular method to achieve this is through foam rolling, which might seem to help from empirical evidence but research on the actual benefits of foam rolling is still lacking.

That being said, there are three studies that have shown positive effects of foam rolling on reducing muscle soreness.

Read more: Why Massage Guns Should be in Every Athlete’s Recovery Toolkit

Active recovery

Active recovery can be a good method to reduce muscle soreness. This includes cooldowns and low-intensity exercise.

This is also an under-researched area but there are a handful of studies that have found that active recovery, whether performed directly after exercise or in the days following a workout, can reduce muscle soreness compared to not performing it.

Importantly, use a low-intensity exercise that involves the muscles you’ve worked.

Supplements

Research is relatively inconclusive when it comes to supplements to recover from a workout and reduce muscle soreness. However, he mentions that the research behind Omega 3 is promising. The supplement seems to improve anabolic signalling which likely increases muscle repair and muscle growth.

Caffeine before a workout seems to also reduce muscle soreness.

Slow increases in training intensity

Slowly increasing the intensity of your workouts is the easiest way to avoid muscle soreness and give you the best chances to properly recover from a workout.

If you’re a beginner, de-trained, or starting a new exercise routine make sure you take a few weeks to ease into your program. Work at volumes and intensities that are lower than you normally would to prevent excessive soreness.

Learn more

Learn what effect stretching has on recovery, what the benefits of cold water are and how to improve your physical health.

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