Who loves snacking? Okay, we all love snacking. It really is a form of self-love, especially if you know how to snack smart. Studies show that smart snacking actually contributes to beating abdominal obesity and prevents becoming overweight. This is because snacking frequently is proven to reduce body weight in various forms, such as increasing metabolism, reducing hunger, and it also improves glucose and insulin control. Sold already, right? Now with snacking yielding all of these benefits, pairing it with a workout only seems like it would carry even more benefits, right? Yes – sort of.
It all comes down to the two factors of timing and quality of food. Without this, your snacking doesn’t really give you any benefits. Although, if you’re eating in the proper time frames of before and after your workouts, and eating nutritious, wholesome snacks, you’ll actually see an improvement in your physical appearance, energy levels and of course, the overall health of your body. If you’re fueling your body with the wrong foods or eating at the wrong times, the hard-earned results that you think you’ll get from your workout actually will be diminished, not to mention you could even risk injury at the gym working out on an empty stomach.
So, how do you know when exactly to eat before your workouts, and what draws the line between smart snacking and flexible snacking?
Well, from compiling the research from nutritionists, this is what we found:
It’s highly likely you’ve had a workout where your energy levels just drop. You head into the gym mentally pumped up, and then it sort of feels like you’ve gotten run over by a truck mid-workout. What happened there? Typically getting over your mindset it the hardest part – then your energy is there, right? Well, instances like this are highly likely to be correlated with how you’ve fueled your body right before your workout.
A Ferrari takes premium fuel, not regular, right? So, why should a pumped up workout be any different? Before we list some of the best and worst foods to eat before your workout, we’ll get into what it means to eat before a workout. If you’re trying to stay lean, and don’t really care about building muscle, it’s not mandatory you eat before your workouts. Although, if you want to build muscle, shorten your recovery time, and get extra energy – it’s extremely important.
Keep in mind that you’ll need the energy to fuel your workout, and after a long, stressful workday, it’s always a good idea to eat.
When to eat and when not to eat is the question, right? When you think about eating before you workout, you’ve probably had the thought go through your mind of when you were full to the brim after a big meal, and you decided to hit the gym. Ugh. Not a nice thought. The key to working out before your workouts is to time it well.
Studies show that any of your big meals that include your macros (carbs, proteins and fats) should be eaten two or more hours before you hit the gym. This is because digestion takes longer when you mix different foods. Make sure to follow this rule considering digesting majority of your macros for a day while you workout will just slow you down.
If you’re a snack-enthusiasts, 3 hours is definitely a long time to go without snacking, but luckily for you, it’s also recommended to eat just before your workout. Although, it really depends on what you’re eating. It’s best to eat carbs with a small amount of protein right before your workout. This is because eating carbs on an empty stomach (i.e. not have eaten 2 hours prior) forces your body to digest the carbs at a fast rate, thus turning the carbs into energy.
If this energy is not used, it will then turn the energy into fat. The reason why it’s important to mix in a small amount of protein (instead of just carbs) before your workout is because your stomach will empty faster with just carbs alone. This means that your blood sugar can spike, and yup – that’s right. You’ll get a crash mid-workout. (insert facial expression for that a-ha moment). So now that brings us to what foods can you eat during these two time frames?
Everyone has their favorite foods, and food that they just skip over in the grocery stores – this is a matter of taste and/ or preference. Although, chances are, at some point in your fitness routine, you’ve been fooled by the belief that a certain protein powder or meal replacement bar will significantly improve your workout. Or you’ve at least given it an honest try.
The reality is that there is no “quick-fix” or magic product that will make your workout better, except for real, healthy whole foods. Although, some foods just work better with your body and give you more benefits useful for a workout more than others. In the category of carbs; bananas, oats, brown rice and nuts are proven to give you more energy and even improve muscle function. Opt for these carbs rather than refined and processed carbs such as white bread and pasta.
In terms of protein, it’s important to include this in a small amount before your workout. This is especially if you do weight training as it will improve your muscle mass. Some options that will help you maximize your workout are a yogurt (with fruit – i.e. your carbs and protein), a hard-boiled egg, nuts and seeds, and lean chicken and turkey. To avoid animal protine, hummus and vegetables a few hours before your workout, topped up with a banana and nut butter about an hour before your workout is the perfect combo.
As for fruits and vegetables, since they are digested faster, it is important to eat them a few hours before your workout, instead of directly before. Some vegetables that also will count for your protein intake is broccoli and sweet potatoes!
So now that you’ve got your pre-workout routine settled, and you know that your workout will be optimized based on the fact that you’re fueling your body with nutrients, why not stay in the zone during your workout as well? With SlimClip Case, you can minimize your distractions at the gym. It works like a regular iPhone case. It’s thin and unobtrusive and stays put when you slip it on your workout pants. It’s perfect for normal gym workouts and even running!