Are you making the most of your workouts? In other words, are you eating in a way that lets you put forth maximum effort when exercising? Under-eating and then working out for hours isn't providing your body with the fuel it needs to perform, let a lot setting you up for success because those habits just aren't sustainable.
Fuel in a way that properly supports your activity level. This is the most effective way to look and feel your best while making the most of your workout. Ultimately, this allows you to work smarter, not harder to achieve your health and composition based goals.
Think of it this way, would you put anything less than premium fuel in a Ferrari? Of course not!! So why are you fueling with less than optimal fuel before a training session?
Do you ever feel drained half way through your workouts?
Maybe even a cramp every now and then?
So hungry you cut your workout short?
Perhaps exercising on fumes resulted in eating 3x the amount needed post workout?
Well, you guessed it! This is probably due to an inadequate fueling strategy. While every woman is so biologically unique and exercise goals can vary greatly, general pre-workout fueling strategy is something that will not change. Check out my 5 best tips for optimal pre-workout nutrition.
Composition is Critical
While it might seem easy to throw whatever you can into your mouth before a workout, you will feel best if that meal or that snack is predominantly comprised of carbohydrate and fluids. This allows for optimal digestion.
Now of course, a CrossFitter’s fuel will differ from someone training for a marathon but on the whole, it is best to focus on carbohydrate rich foods. Fresh fruit smoothies, dried fruit, oats, protein bites (see my recipe this month!) are all great options.
Need something a little heavier midday? Go for a wrap filled with a thin spread of peanut butter, banana, a drizzle of honey and a sprinkle of cinnamon! Sweet potato sliders are also an awesome pre-workout option.
Side note, I know some of you are wondering about fasting before a workout but that is a conversation for a different day. Simply put, if you feel energized and strong while working out in a fasted state, it is probably OK to continue. If you find yourself more on the hungry and tired spectrum, you may feel better eating beforehand. As always, it is best to consult with a licensed professional.
Timing is Everything
While every woman is different from a genetic standpoint, most will find that consuming a balanced meal 3-4 hours before a workout and a carbohydrate rich snack 30-60 minutes before the session will allow for the perfect blend of smooth digestion and high energy.
Fun fact: Did you know that genetics play a role in the reason why some of us excel working out in the morning while others thrive when they train in the evening?! So cool!
Poor Digestibility = Poor Energy
When possible, avoid foods that are slow for the human body to digest, even if they are traditionally considered health foods. High fat and high fiber can be very difficult to digest whether it be a pile of greasy fast food, a fiber bar, load of cruciferous veggies or even foods such as avocado and chia seeds when they are consumed in abundance.
Think of it this way, all your blood rushes to the intestines to break down these foods. We need blood flowing through your arms, legs, brain etc. in order for you to make the most of your training session. Always save higher fat, fiber, and even extremely protein dense foods after a workout.
Juice is a No Go
While it may seem like a great idea to chug a little juice for pre-workout energy and hydration, especially in the summer, it is actually one of the least conducive ideas if you are hoping to have a great training session. Why? The percentage of carbohydrate (mainly sugar) is so high in juice that it makes it very difficult to permeate through your intestines, oftentimes leading to gastrointestinal distress mid-workout. If juice is all that you have on hand, pour a few tablespoons of juice into a large cup of water.
Practice Your Fueling Strategy like you Would Your Sport
Last but not least, take your pre-workout nutrition seriously, especially if you’ve started to train for a specific event such as a half marathon or major hike. Your best friend may feel well with a certain pre-workout food or beverage concoction but it does not mean that you will.
Never, ever, ever try a food for the first time on the day of an event. Nerves mixed with food experimentation can be disastrous. (Reminder: the gut and brain connect!) Continually experimenting with nutrient timing as well as food choices will ensure that you are ready to go for your big day, whatever that might look like.
Want help staying accountable with your pre-workout fuel? Connect with me @fwdfuel for more sports nutrition tips, tricks and recipes!