Your Gut-Busting Pre-Workout Meal Strategy

What to eat before a workout is one of the great conundrums. I am an early-morning workout guy, like real early–in the gym and sweating by 6 a.m.. I went through a few pre-workout-meal phases.

During the first, I ate nothing prior to walking out the door. I felt okay during my workouts but a trainer told me I needed to jumpstart my body with something before attacking my workout. “Just like your car needs fuel to run, so does your body,” she said.

So I began having a protein shake every morning. Full of nutrients, I thought. Like high-octane fuel! But it left me feeling heavy and, well, the blender woke up the house! Bad idea.

During the second phase, I ate an energy bar. But something about having a “candy” bar at 5:30 a.m. didn’t feel right. Besides, the 120-170 or so calories they contain put me at a series deficit before I even broke a sweat.

Now, I have a piece of fruit before I head out the door–usually half an orange, or an apple or banana. It wakes up my metabolism without overloading my body, and allows me to leave the gym without feeling hungry and craving something like, uh, bacon and eggs.

What you eat prior to your workout – and, yes, you should eat something – depends on your workout goals. First and foremost eating pre-workout allows you to not only be fueled-up, but also to help preserve any muscle gains you’ve made. If you’re working out to build muscle, your body requires more of a pre-workout boost than if you’re trying to shed fat. But either way, you’ll make more progress if you arm your body with fuel.

The time of day you work out is also a factor. If you’re a morning person like me, something minimal will usually suffice–unless again, you’re on a serious muscle-building regiment. If you workout later in the day or on the evening, chances are you would have eaten at least one meal before heading to the gym. Nutritionists say try to give your bay at least a good hour after and solid meal before working out. And for a typical 180-lbs guy, a 500-800 calorie meal will serve as a solid foundation for a great workout.

Here’s one of the best pre-workout meal articles I’ve seen around. Check it out–and fuel up!

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