by Amanda Jane Snyder
The results are in the details, but the last thing I want you to be overthinking and stressing about is the details.
The details should be habitual, because after all, we're only as good as our habits, our systems, and our routines.
Let's make our workouts as easy as they can possibly be by properly FUELING ourselves in a way that enhances performance.
One way to enhance our performance is by eating the proper food to give us that energy we need to lift heavy, run, jump, turn, leap, etc!
"But what about fasted cardio?"
This is a common question and myth that circulates around the fitness industry. Will doing cardio on an empty stomach promote greater fat loss? The research says no, there is little science backed evidence proving this to be so. In fact, science says that fueling before a run, lift, or exercise session will actually improve performance.
More on that later.
Let's get down to the nitty gritty of macronutrients and how they play a role in what we should be eating before a workout.
Carbohydrates, Proteins, and Fats are the three macronutrients that our foods consists of, and each of them takes a different amount of time for our body to process and digest. Carbs take 1-2 hours to digest being the fastest macronutrient for our body to process, whereas protein comes in at 3-4 hours, and fat can take up to 6 hours for our body to process.
With those ideas in mind, we can consider exactly what we would want to consume before a workout.
"But does it depend on the type of exercise?"
Great Q! You might not want to fuel the same way for running as you would for weight training. So let's examine different modalities of exercise and discuss what might be best.
For more endurance exercise like running, biking, or swimming, carbs are definitely going to be your friend in general, but especially pre-workout.
According to the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics Sports Nutrition Care Manual if you're exercising for long distance and are a serious endurance athlete, consuming a larger meal 3-4 hours before you exercise is key. Try and avoid foods high in fiber and fats as these will prolong the digestion process aka prolonging the food to act as fuel. Stick with a meal that is higher in carbs and lean protein.
30 to 1 hour before your endurance exercise, fast digesting foods like fruit or a chocolate milk beverage (I prefer oat milk) are going to be your best bet!
Resistance Training can include weight lifting, yoga, pilates, and even barre class. We might fuel for resistance training a bit differently as our body requires different energy systems for resistance training in comparison to caridio endurance training.
Similarly to endurance training, according to the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics Sports Nutrition Care Manual, 3-4 hours prior to training is when we should start fueling. This meal should be high in quality carbs as well as 20-30g of lean protein.
30 min to 2 hours before exercise carbs and moderate protein intake will be our friend. Try and avoid foods high in fiber and fats as these will prolong the digestion process. Try and go for those faster digesting carbs like a banana or an energy bar!
Amanda Jane Snyder is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, Corrective Exercise Specialist, Certified Personal Trainer, and Mindset Coach living in Brooklyn, NY. She has been vegan for 4 years. She specializes in Strength and Conditioning for Actors, Singers and Dancers.