6 Pre-Workout Foods for the Fatigued Gym Rat
Your workouts aren't consistent. You start out with the endurance of a pronghorn antelope, but you end on a sloth note. It's like your workouts are getting the best of you, not the other way around.
This is the sign of muscle glycogen depletion, and it likely stems from what you're eating—or not eating—before your workouts. If you want to go the distance every time, you need to keep your glycogen stores up. How do you do this? By fueling your body with the right nutrient powerhouses.
Why You Want to Keep Your Glycogen Stores Up
Your muscles use glucose from carbs for fuel. During low- and high-intensity workouts, your muscle and liver stores of glycogen are your muscles' major source of energy. Glycogen, however, is not infinite; rather, glycogen stores are limited. When you deplete these stores while exercising, your output and intensity declines. Loading yourself up on energy-giving foods will maximize your glycogen stores and prevent burnouts.
Pre-Workout Foods That Prevent Workout Burnout
If you're reading this article, you are looking to optimize your workouts. You already know that beach body isn't going to shape itself. You have to put in the work. But how can you if your body isn't matching the willpower of your mind? "Believe it and you'll achieve it" doesn't quite work here. So, let's get your body the fuel it needs.
1. Chicken, Rice & Vegetables
Sounds like dinner, right? We know, but this is actually a classic pre-workout meal for many exercise buffs. That's because they know a secret you don't: your muscles use the glucose from carbs for fuel. When you combine complex carbohydrates with lean protein, you provide your body with amino acids that promote muscle growth (anabolism) and a slow-releasing source of energy. Because a meal like this can be heavy, you'll want to control your portions based on your weight and consume it 2-3 hours before your workout.
2. Fruit & Greek Yogurt
When working out, your body converts muscle glycogen into glucose to allow for muscle contraction. As muscle glycogen become depleted, the muscles weaken and lose their ability to contract. The result can lead to injury and loss of or lack of improvement in muscle tone and build.
Dried fruit has the calories and simple sugars you need to zap your body into gear. When you consume it with Greek yogurt, you're providing your body with the protein it needs to optimize your workout. Consume this meal 1-1.5 hours before your workout.
In our household we call them "bomblets", because we make them really good. The potential of this pre-workout protein has been studied and thought to improve athletic performance. You get a great source of muscle-building protein and amino acids. Either alone or with carbs, you increase muscle protein synthesis and improve your anabolic response just after 20 grams. Consume 2-3 hours before your workout to prevent muscle catabolism.
Though quinoa has been around for many years, it can take a special hand to cook it properly. Make your life easier and not tempt your saucepan by cooking quinoa alone. Instead, whip up some quinoa muffin bites to give your body the recharging power of the protein, fiber, and iron it contains.
6. Oatmeal & Green Tea
Ok, your mind may be officially blown right now. You know how you cook those instant packs of oatmeal and they call for water? What if you supplemented the water with green tea? Now we'll wait a few seconds for your mind to finish exploding. Done?
Green tea contains caffeine and L-theanine, which give you energy. Add it to oatmeal, which is high in fiber and stabilizes blood sugar levels, and you've got yourself an energy-packed meal that is not only a water-cooler conversation but tasty.