The Importance of Pre-Workout Nutrition for Your Metabolism
Have you ever wondered why some days you are excited about working out while other days, you feel lethargic and hardly have the energy to do anything?
Every endurance athlete knows that preparation for training or a big race is key, and pre-workout nutrition is part of that strategy – and one of the most overlooked opportunities to improve your training and optimize your metabolism is what you eat before you train and when you eat it.
When you’re planning to do any endurance activity, you need the proper nutrition to fuel your body for optimal workout performance. Competing in a fasted state may compromise fuel stores, and eating the wrong foods can cause discomfort, cramps, and depleted energy levels.
Because everyone’s body is unique and trains at its own pace, using an app and device like Lumen to see whether you have enough fuel and endurance for your entire workout can help you properly prepare for your workout.
Here are some guidelines on how to fuel your body with the right meals.
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The Impact Behind Pre-Workout Nutrition
The key factors that determine how much your endurance improves with exercise are how long and how hard you train. However, changing the food you eat before and during a workout can also affect how much you benefit by either reducing the difficulty of the workout or influencing how your body responds biologically to the exertion.
The duration and intensity of your workouts form the foundation of your endurance gains.
The best time to experiment with what works for you, your muscles, hormones, and how other systems react to your efforts is during training runs.
To get optimized results, you first need to assess whether your body is fueled up. Next, use biofeedback to learn about your body and limits, and start implementing small daily habits by eating the right amount of nutritional foods before your workout routine.
The Benefits of Pre-Workout Nutrition
Pre-workout nutrition is beneficial to your health, as well as your physical activity.
There are many other health benefits to pre-workout nutrition that include:
- Improve Endurance: Consuming a nutritious snack or meal before exercising can help you to stay energized for a longer period, particularly when working out at a high intensity.
- Improve Muscle Recovery and Muscle Building: Since muscles are broken down during a workout, you must consume enough protein and carbohydrates to repair the tissue. This way you avoid any muscle damage, and it can properly heal and build.
- Increases Metabolic Rate: Eating right before a workout increases your metabolic rate, which helps burn more calories during your workout and extends throughout the day.
- Helps Regulate Blood Sugar Levels: Consuming slow-absorption carbohydrates provides a steady source of energy that helps maintain stable blood sugar levels.
- Can Improve Mental Focus: You can improve your mental focus by being alert, improving your memory, and concentrating on your workout.
The Best Foods for Pre-Workout Nutrition
Lumen metabolic coaches recommend incorporating macros along with other nutrient-dense foods, but it’s best to eat a carb-rich snack that is easily digestible, such as fruits, dried fruits, or a loaf of bread, so you can use the simple carbohydrates which provide energy before your workout.
What to eat for each type of workout
When your goal is endurance training, your nutritional needs will be different. You can consume wholesome carb-rich foods before a workout to optimize your performance by topping off your existing muscle and liver glycogen stores. You want your body to start with a full tank to keep you energized.
For HIIT workouts (medium-high intensity), our metabolisms prefer to utilize carbs for fuel. This is a great opportunity to fit in a healthy faster absorbing carb like half a banana or some dates, at least 30 minutes before your session.
For low-intensity workouts, you can utilize fat for fuel. Therefore, you do not necessarily need to fuel up in carbs before performing a low-intensity workout like walking, for instance.
For short runs (less than an hour), we recommend being at a Lumen level 3, so you may not need to fuel up before, but some Greek yoghurt with berries and a bit of honey is a great option.
For long runs (longer than an hour): Important to plan ahead of time and ensure your meals and snacks the day before the run include healthy wholesome and slower absorption carbs, like sweet potato or wholewheat toast with peanut butter or a turkey sandwich.
Measure your metabolism 30 minutes before your workout to assess whether you’re sufficiently fueled up. If you’re Lumen Level 4 or 5, you’re burning carbs which means you’re ready to go for your long run!
These times are only recommendations and depend on your current metabolic state.
Experiment, experiment, experiment
If you cannot make a full meal before your workout, you can blend your favourite veggies and fruits and add a protein like yoghurt, milk, nuts, or nut butter. Remember that your nutrition needs are going to be different depending on your body type, weight, and dietary needs, but it’s best to experiment at the beginning to see what works for you. Don’t forget to stay hydrated and drink plenty of water, you can add a splash of lemon to give it a flavour. Make sure to avoid processed and high-sugar foods
Remember that your digestive and metabolism pattern is different, and you will need to experiment and pay attention to what works best for you. It’s also good practice that during your workout, you monitor how you are feeling. If you feel bloated and uncomfortable, take note and adjust snacks and mealtimes. Balancing your digestion and energy levels is important to get the best results.
Your pre-workout nutrition will ultimately dictate how effectively your body operates before and after your workout. Pre-workout nutrition significantly impacts your energy levels and your body’s metabolism which you need during any type of physical activity. To get the desired results, you need to know how metabolically flexible you are and incorporate the right nutrients, at the right time to maintain optimal metabolism.
By understanding the science behind pre-workout nutrition and incorporating these tips, you’ll achieve your health and fitness goals in no time. Though it may take some patience, trial, and error, learn to take on the right mindset and create a lifestyle to become a healthier and happier you.
- Industry Presented Blog: What to Eat Before and After a Workout. American College of Sports Medicine. Accessed 5/24/2021.
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- Ormsbee MJ, Bach CW, Baur DA. Pre-exercise nutrition: the role of macronutrients, modified starches and supplements on metabolism and endurance performance. Nutrients. 2014 Apr 29;6(5):1782-808. doi: 10.3390/nu6051782. PMID: 24787031; PMCID: PMC4042570.
- Rothschild JA, Kilding AE, Plews AJ. What Should I Eat Before Exercise? Pre-Exercise Nutrition and the Response to Endurance Exercise: Current Prospective and Future Directions. Nutrients. 2020;(11):3473.
- Tokmakidis SP, Karamanol IA. Effects of carbohydrate ingestion 15 min before exercise on endurance running capacity. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism. 2008;33(3):441-9
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