Ah, the delicate balance of the tummy during a workout. Imagine if you will, you have just eaten your fill of your favorite pasta. You are feeling a bit lethargic now as you push the plate away. Now you must run a few miles as quickly as you can. Scared? You should be. Eating the wrong foods before you workout can weigh you down, cause stomach discomfort and abdominal pains and cramps and nausea. These effects can understandably impair your ability to work to your best ability and therefore impair your results and progress.
What do we all want before we get ready to push our bodies into a post-workout bliss? Something quick and simple yet high in nutritional value that we can fuel our muscles with without overloading our systems. This is what will get us not just through the workout but provide us with the essential ingredients to perform to our best ability. The best news is it doesn’t have to be complicated. It’s just about making the right choices.
1. Natural Peanut Butter. Smucker’s makes an affordable and tasty natural peanut butter. If you are currently stuck on the old peanut butter recipes and are afraid that the natural variety just won’t be the same, I challenge you to give it a try and trust me when I say you won’t regret it. I also grew up on Jif peanut butter and after giving Smucker’s natural peanut butter a try, I will never go back. Peanut butters that are not natural also usually contain hydrogenated oils which studies have shown to be bad for your health. Natural peanut butter is my number one choice because it is packed with protein and also contains some carbohydrates and fiber to make you feel fuller longer. If you are not crazy enough to eat this right off the spoon like me, you could also try some on a few crackers or even try putting some my number two choice, bananas.
2. Bananas. All fruits are free game when it comes to a pre-workout snack, but bananas are on the top of my fruit list because they contain a very healthy dose of fiber, carbs and also, yes, protein! Fruit often gets overlooked as a source of protein but it’s true they are a wonderful source and thus a great food to eat before a workout.
3. Orange juice. Another fruit that is packed with protein, and when you drink it as a juice you are also hydrating which is just as important as eating right before a workout. Orange juice also contains carbohydrates, fiber, tons of vitamin c and also a nice little dose of sugar to give you a healthy energy boost. You can also buy orange juice which is fortified with vitamins like D and calcium. I recommend Tropicana as far as taste and quality is concerned, but to each their own, try different ones to find out which is right for you!
4. Eggs. Incredible. That they are. As a quick and easy food to eat before a workout, try hard boiling some and keeping them in your refrigerator a few at a time. Keep in mind after they are hard boiled they don’t last as long as when they were uncooked. How long they keep for depends on the conditions such as refrigerator temp but I would try to keep it to a week or so. These little guys are a wonderful source of protein. They can pack up to over 7 grams of protein in an extra large egg. Protein is very important when working out to ensure that your muscles are able to maintain their integrity and build up when your body feels that it is necessary. There have been studies done which show that when nutritional value is concerned, free range eggs provide more bang for your buck. Check out this website for more information on the benefits of a free range egg.
5. Nuts. Aw, nuts! Such a small food, yet so full of all the good stuff you need to get through your workout. Walnuts contain omega-3 fatty acids. Almonds are known for their Vitamin E content. Peanuts provide vitamin B, folate and niacin. Nuts are akin to my other suggestions in that they provide a source of protein. Mix a few of these together with some dried berries and you’ve got yourself a potent workout snack mix.
So save that plate of pasta for your post-workout meal and indulge in a few of these foods before you hit the gym. Remember to drink plenty of water as well and your belly and your body will thank you.