You’ve probably heard the phrase “your body is your temple” so many times that it just sounds silly at this point. It’s a great way of thinking about how the things you take in truly affect you, both in the long and short term. But it’s not the most accurate description. In fact, your body is actually more like the most advanced organic machine that’s ever existed. Human beings can perform an incredibly vast group of tasks both physical and mental. But you’ve got to keep the machine well-oiled if you want to work at your optimum level. Regular exercise is a cornerstone of that work, but proper nutrition goes with it hand in hand. If you’re not eating properly before your workout, you simply aren’t getting the most out of your time in the gym. And there’s no mystery to it. The proper choices are as scientific as the regimen you follow at the weight machines. Here is a look at some of the best foods to fuel your body for a workout.
First of all, keep in mind that fueling up for your workout doesn’t necessarily have to happen in the hour right before you hit the gym. If you work out in the morning you can take care of your needs with the proper snack right before bed. This is crucial for those who just can’t eat first thing after waking up, or if you get nauseous eating right before you exercise. It’s not ideal, but a nighttime snack of fruit, or a bit of peanut butter and toast will still do the trick when you start your workout.
If you do have the opportunity to eat before you exercise, your best bet is to lean on carbohydrates. Although doctors tell you to watch your carbs, the proper choices before a strenuous workout will actually help your body burn more fat. The carbs you choose will have everything to do with the timing of your routine. If you only have an hour until you plan to hit the gym, keep those carbs simple. Juice or fresh fruit is a great option, or a small bowl of organic oatmeal with some fruit mixed in. If you don’t even have that much time, just go for a spoonful of peanut butter and a banana.
If the workout is a few hours away you’ve got a bit more flexibility. In fact, every single meal you have between now and when you hit the weights will either support or undermine your plans. Lunch should include carbohydrates like whole grain bread and vegetables. Beans are a great option as well. Just make sure you get these in two hours prior to your workout routine at most.
What if your workout isn’t around mealtime, or if your plan involves five to eight small meals a day? Stretching out your calories is a great way to build lean muscle and shed fat. Just make sure the food choices are appropriate. A quality cereal is a good option, and you can always go with almond milk or soy milk if you are vegan or lactose intolerant. Just make sure it’s a whole grain choice. You’ll never go wrong with eggs and toast, especially if you can get in a little fresh fruit salad as well. Mix up your nut butters if you want a bit of variety. Protein soups are a great idea as well. Add in some of the leftover whole grains from the week, such as brown rice or quinoa, to create something more filling. Smoothies are a great choice too. Try to make them at home if you can, using fruit, dairy and protein powder, so you can control the calories and avoid added sweeteners.