The proper strength training regimen cannot be recommended enough for both men and women alike. In addition to the physical strength that anyone training for strength can obtain, there are the mental and personal benefits that assist in one’s everyday life that can go with it. In addition to these benefits, there is an overall health benefit to training for strength.
Of course, there is more to it than just the strength training if you want optimal development. There is also that nutritional aspect that many seem to forget when lifting weights. While you still will increase size and strength without proper nutrition, you are not getting the full benefits of strength training and you are opening yourself up to injuries.
When we are weight training, we are actually damaging our muscles by causing micro-tears in the muscle tissue. After strength training, your muscles are depleted and begging for nutrition to begin the healing process. The best way to feed the muscles is not waiting for the end of the workout to start feeding the muscles, but to actually feed the muscles before working out.
The Purpose of Pre-workout Nutrition
The nutrients that you take in pre-workout provide a double benefit:
- Pre-workout nutrition provides energy to power through the upcoming workout.
- Pre-workout nutrition begins the muscle repair and recovery process sooner.
Proper Pre-workout Nutrition
Let’s talk about the proper pre-workout nutrition guidelines when strength training. Food equals fuel. When you eat for function only, you scrutinize every calorie that goes into your body. This may seem a little extra, but this is what the best of the best do in the world of bodybuilding.
Before a workout, we need to think about how we will fuel up before the workout. If we weigh ourselves down with fatty foods, our workout will suffer. If you load up on good carbs and lean protein, our engines are ready for optimal performance.
Carbs give you the energy to get through your workout and protein breaks down into amino acids assisting with muscle recovery and growth to start the protein synthesis process. Carbs are the body’s preferred source of energy, so a meal consisting of both carbs and protein with provide sustained energy and the potential for less muscular breakdown. Since carbs are the preferred source of fuel, it is easy to burn through the stored carbs, also called glycogen stores.
Best Pre-workout Carbohydrates
Carbs come in many flavors. There are the slow-burning carbs that break down much slower than fast burning carbs. Some of the best sources of slow burning carbs are yams, brown rice, quinoa and oats. While I tend to avoid simple carbs, if you are going to ingest them, pre-workout is the time to do it. I prefer simple carbs such as berries and bananas pre-workout.
Best Pre-workout Protein
Just as there are slow burning and fast burning carbs, there are slow digesting and fast digesting proteins. For a pre-workout meal, I prefer lean chicken breast, turkey breast, cold water fatty fish, eggs and whey.
Best Pre-workout Beverage
Water, water and more water. While I do not mind a cup of coffee before a workout, the best method to stay hydrated is by simply drinking water (a lot of it). Most people will say at least 2 liters per day. I prefer to drink 2 gallons per day myself.
When to Eat Before a Workout
There are a few different trains of thought as to when you should ingest your pre-workout meal. If you can eat 60-90 minutes before a workout, I would suggest to consume 40 – 50 grams each of protein and carbs. If you will eat 30 – 45 minutes before a workout, I would suggest that you consume 25 – 30 grams of protein.
You Get Out What You Put In
Just remember that you have to put in 100% effort in both the kitchen and the gym in order to succeed, and if you want optimal results, you should be taking full advantage of both.