There is no topic in the industry where opinions can differ so much. What are the right things to eat before strength training? Some recommend having as many carbohydrates as possible before training. Others swear by training on an empty stomach.
Which option is best before strength training always depends on the time and duration of your workout and your training goals!
- The right size and composition of pre-workout meals
- The perfect timing for taking meals before training
- The adaptation of the diet to the training goal
- The importance of protein in the diet before strength training
Avoid large meals immediately before training
Going to the gym immediately after eating a substantial meal is not recommended. The food will sit too heavy in the stomach. Therefore, consuming a large amount of food just before strength training doesn't make much sense.
You should eat your last big meal 2-3 hours before working out.
Decreased blood flow to the muscles
There is a fundamental reason for this. During training, the body will try to digest and store the carbohydrates and fats that were consumed shortly beforehand. In doing so, the body primarily supplies blood to the gastrointestinal tract.
As a result, less blood is pumped into the muscles. This means that fewer nutrients are transported to the muscles. This also means poorer performance.
So, you should think about when you want to have your last big meal before working out. Too much energy in the form of food does not automatically mean better performance in the gym.
But that doesn't mean you can't eat anything right before your workout. You will also perform poorly if you are hungry and lack energy. Here you can benefit from fast-digesting carbohydrates, such as a banana.
Training goals and the diet before strength training
If you are on a diet, you should still have enough protein before your morning workout. This is especially relevant here because the intake of protein has already been interrupted overnight for an extended period.
For a morning workout, you should ensure you have had adequate protein intake. As a rule, 30-40 g per meal. In the morning, the amino acid level in our blood is very low. This has a negative effect on protein biosynthesis.
A diet with a calorie surplus is necessary if you are focusing on building muscle. In this case, you should avoid eating too much food just before strength training, but you can eat a moderate amount of fast-digesting carbohydrates and proteins before your workout.
Providing energy is important. After all, you need the energy from carbohydrates and protein to progressively increase your performance and push through intense workouts. This is how you will efficiently build muscle.
You should rely on a pre-workout meal with fast-digesting carbohydrates to push you through your training. Fruit is a good example here. Of course, it also requires the appropriate amount of readily available protein, e.g., Whey Isolate (approx. 30-40 g).
Fast-digesting protein before training
It is useful to eat a moderate amount of protein before training. It supports the cells in their renewal and thus promotes muscle growth.
During longer workouts, your body quickly runs out of energy. Your body then draws energy from the muscles. To avoid this, you can supply fast-digesting protein before strength training.
Here, animal protein as a pre-workout snack or a shake with Whey Isolate is recommended.
Although it is important to meet your protein needs with proper food, supplements such as a shake can also be useful.
Easy Preparation of a pre-workout meal
Should you want to eat something two hours before strength training, you can arrange your pre-workout meal like this, for example:
- 50 g rolled oats
- 250 g low-fat curd
- Milk or water (for dilution)
- Flavored powder for the taste
These ingredients add up to about 350 kcal from 38 g of carbohydrates, 37 g of protein, and 4 g of fat. The amount is ideal for supplying your body with energy before your workout.
Just before your workout, you can eat the following for a quick supply of carbohydrates and protein:
- One shake with 40 g Whey protein
- A banana
The protein shake and banana provide about 260 kcal from 29 g carbohydrates, 32 g protein, and 2 g fat. The nutrients are quickly absorbed by the body and provide energy for your workout.
The perfect diet before strength training depends on the timing of the workouts as well as the individual goal. There is no universal formula here.
Those who are dieting should focus on at least a moderate intake of protein before training to avoid going into a catabolic state.