Pre-workout nutrition is one of the least understood aspects for novice bodybuilders. Professional bodybuilders know that nutrition is one of the fundamental keys to adding massive gains. What everyone needs to understand is that nutrition is just as important. Some say that bodybuilding is 30% working out and 70% nutrition. I say that it is a 100% combination effort to both.
We all know the importance of post-workout nutrition (I hope so at least). If not, this is another topic on its own that we have talked about and will talk about further in other posts.
My daily pre-workout begins from the moment I wake up actually. I make sure that my meals are a mix of 50% good carbs (a combination of vegetables and complex carbs such as yams, brown rice, quinoa, etc.), 40% lean proteins and 10% good fats (salmon, nuts, olives, olive oil, etc.). Even though I work out around dinnertime, I am already thinking about it during breakfast. The complex carbs give us slow-burning energy that gets us through the day and through our intense workouts.
As you would imagine, there is a myriad of data out there – some informational, some just dead wrong. Here are some solutions to common pre-workout mistakes.
Never Work Out On an Empty Stomach
Some common bro-science out there tells people to work out on an empty stomach because it will force your body to turn more stored fat into energy. This would cause extra fat loss if it were true, but it is not only false, but also very dangerous. Working out on an empty stomach will leave you feeling week, lethargic and light-headed. That is not what you want.
We eat to fuel us through our workouts. Carbs give us the energy to get us through these workouts.
Avoid The Empty Calories Before Working Out
Now that we know that we need to eat before working out, we also need to know to avoid those empty calories. I follow this rule for every meal, but it is even more important pre-workout. A chocolate bar or energy drink may seem like a good idea, but while you may experience a slight boost of energy, you will soon crash, leaving you exactly where you do not want to be when working out.
Drink Lots of Water
This is not just a good rule pre, post and during your workout, this is a good rule of thumb all day long. While working out, your body will become dehydrated as you lose water through sweat. You need to replace these fluids. In addition to replenishing fluids, water will assist with the proper digestion of your food.
Now that we know what to avoid per-workout, what should we eat? I like a meal full of complex carbs and protein about an hour before working out. A lot of times, I mix quick-cooking oats with a scoop of chocolate protein powder. This will give me about 50-60 grams each of carbs and protein.
About thirty minutes before working out, I take my pre-workout beverage. Most of the time this is a pre-workout mixed with water. Some supplements that I like inside of my pre-workout are things like beta-alanine and glutamine. Another alternative is caffeine tablets and a mixture of creatine monohydrate, beta-alanine, glutamine and BCAAs mixed with water. This way, you completely control the amount of each supplement that you take.
As far as post-workout meals go, that is another long post.