Wait… Donuts before my workout ISN’T the secret to my gains?
It’s not uncommon to see or hear of people smashing sweets such as donuts pre-workout. Everyone has their own take on this subject and I for one couldn’t picture myself ever doing it. Why? Pre-Workout Nutrition is one of the most important aspects of training. It makes a difference whether you believe it or not!
Your pre-workout meal is responsible for several things: Your energy in both the short and long run of your workout. Your body’s ability in being able to digest the nutrients it was given. Your mental focus during the training. Your recovery after the training.
So when it comes to what you should consider when making your pre-workout meal, think of this… you want a steady supply of energy, easy digestion, and to remain in an anti-catabolic state for your workout. You may be reading this and be thinking, great so a donut covers all those bases! But let’s break it down.
When it comes to the steady supply of energy. We want our energy to be sustained throughout the entire workout, not just be supplied with high intensity at the beginning and then crash. To do this, we need to ensure what we’re eating delivers stability. If we have an aggressive rise in blood sugar we are setting ourselves up for a crash (what goes up, must come down). The rate at which it comes down is what we have control over. By opting for a good source of natural carbohydrates, we would be looking at choosing a carbohydrate with enough fiber and also some healthy fats. The healthy fats are there to blunt the rise in blood sugar levels.
Now what about digestion? Donuts and cupcakes digest pronto! Now I’m not bashing sweets here, I am shining some light more so on the protein source for this one. Digestibility is another key aspect of your pre-workout meal choice, so let’s break this one down as well. Feeling bloated, full, and discomfort while training is not wise. Having your meal just sit there in your stomach will affect your performance in the gym. This is why opting for fish or chicken breast or even turkey breast over something like steak is wise. It breaks down quickly and supplies the body with that it needs. Steak on the other hand (while I love steak!) is wiser to choose for another meal as its quite heavy to break down.
Lastly, our pre-workout meal should be geared toward Anti-Catabolism.
Going into a training session you should be thinking; have I supplied by body with the nutrients needed to help manage catabolism? When I speak of catabolism, I am referring to the catabolic effects of training in general, and also speeding up the recovery time post workout. Now it makes sense why protein selection is important! If we supply our body with a high quality protein source we can ensure the post workout recovery will go well because the choice in protein would be rich in leucine and this helps spike muscle protein synthesis levels. Pairing the quality protein source with a quality carbohydrate will also help in the anti-catabolic department.
Now I’m not saying never touch a donut or steak pre-workout, but keep that in mind when selecting your pre-workout meals. The secret to success lies in the training, nutrition, and dedication.
- Natalie Gagnon