Picture this scenario. You just got off of work. You make your way home, change into your favorite new workout attire, and with a water bottle in hand, get in your car and make your way to your favorite place, the gym! Work was superb, and you just heard your favorite song come on the radio as you miraculously get lucky with a front row parking spot! You suddenly remember you haven't eaten a thing since lunch, but your adrenaline and excitement levels are so high that you decide to not worry too much about it. As you begin your workout, you feel more sluggish than normal. The weights feel heavier, and your energy level that was so high only a few minutes ago seems to have vanished into thin air, as you struggle to squeeze out 10 reps when normally 20 is a breeze. You start to feel your blood sugar drop and you find you need to sit down on a bench. You wonder what has happened. "I know I should have eaten something," you mutter to yourself, as you decide to cut your workout short.
Food is fuel!
The moral of this story is that it's important to understand how big a role food plays when preparing to work out. Fueling your body before a workout is the same as fueling a jet plane before a long, rigorous flight. Both are not going to go anywhere without gas in the tank. We at Yes.Fit have compiled a list of 7 important things to know about fueling for a workout:
1. Sustained energy - A properly balanced meal before your next workout will ensure you have plenty of energy to perform all of your exercises to the end with even some to spare! Giving your body appropriate fuel will provide stable, sustainable energy to keep you going.
2. Increased strength - With fuel in the tank, you will be able to go further in your reps, sets, and even maybe break your own personal record! Your muscles need energy to burn.
3. Carbohydrates are key - As part of your pre-workout meal, make sure to include slow-digesting, low glycemic carbs to ensure a steady release of energy to kick your workout's butt! Examples are sweet potatoes, oatmeal and brown rice.
4. Nutrient timing - Make sure you consume your meal according to when you plan on working out. You do not want to let too much or too little time pass between fueling up and the start of your workout. Approximately 30-45 minutes prior is adequate enough time to let food properly start to digest.
5. Low blood sugar - Not eating properly before a work out could potentially be dangerous for your body depending on your conditioning level. If your body isn't adequately fueled, you could experience blood sugar drops. Symptoms of low blood sugar could include headaches, nausea, dizziness, extreme fatigue, and shakiness. If you continue to experience symptoms like these, please consult a doctor immediately.
6. Don't overwhelm or underwhelm your digestive system - Give your body the proper number of calories it needs to achieve a phenomenal workout. If you're not sure, try the "hand and fist" method. The size of your hand is a great guesstimate of the amount of protein, and the size of your fist for the number of carbohydrates you particularly need!
7. Refuel mid-exercise - If you find that your energy is diminishing half-way through your workout, even though you ate beforehand, it can't hurt to eat something small to increase your blood sugar for the second half. A banana or your favorite protein bar should do the trick!
Fueling with the proper food before a workout not only guarantees that you will give your body and muscles the energy and strength it needs to perform its best, but it will also help to avoid any unwanted, unsafe drops in blood sugar that could turn a fab day into a drab day. Working out is fun, exhilarating, and rewarding. Make sure your next time at the gym, at home, or wherever you decide to break a sweat is just that! Visit us for more helpful tips and stories from The Global Leader in Virtual Races & Fitertainment™.