Optimal performance during workout requires precise consideration of nutrient consumption.
Studies gathered over the decades have indicated that the most favourable dietary intervention is the one that can enhance and sustain carbohydrate (CHO) reserves (muscle and liver glycogen) for a high-intensity workout.
Consuming a meal in the preceding hour can help in maximizing glycogen stores and possibly influences its utilization in the course of the workout.
The timing of the meal and its composition is essential in regulating the metabolism of the body.
When you opt for the right choices, a pre-workout meal can help you in:
- Preventing low blood sugar (a drop in blood sugar can make you feel tired, sluggish and less alert).
- Maintaining glycogen (This is the stored form of carbohydrates in our muscles and liver that we can use for fuelling our body).
- Minimizing hunger pangs.
- Preventing stomach aches, bloating, etc.
WHY IS PRE – EXERCISE NUTRITION IMPORTANT?
For years, athletes, fitness enthusiasts, or bodybuilders are gripped over the importance of post-workout/exercise nutrition, and the window of pre-workout nutrition is comparatively overlooked.
Pre-exercise nutrition comes with a simple aim of “performing better and recovering faster”.
Be it losing those chunks of fat, gaining muscles, or increasing strength performance levels, feeding your body by eating the right amount and types of a nutrient is crucial.
It helps you sustain your energy levels for long, reduces muscle damage or muscle soreness post-performance, and increases the overall performance. Setting the correct ratio and balance between nutrients is vital.
ROLE OF MICRONUTRIENTS – CARBS, PROTEIN AND FAT
The term “Micronutrient “Refers to the nutrients that are required by our body in larger amounts and perform various physiological functions to maintain health.
The major ones include carbohydrates, proteins, and fat.
The composition of pre-exercise nutrition and the role of major micronutrients is essential for optimizing metabolism and successive endurance performance.
NEVER SKIP YOUR FUEL: CARBOHYDRATE
Your car needs fuel (petrol/diesel) to run efficiently, similarly, your body needs carbohydrates for engaging in any kind of physical activity.
The major function of carbohydrates is to provide energy and it is the key fuel for muscle and brain.
Glycogen is the storage form of carbohydrate for muscles and liver which is later used as a fuel for any kind of physical exercise. These glycogen stores in muscle are limited.
Depletion in glycogen stores can lead to a feeling of tiredness, fatigue and there is lack of energy. Be it short term training or long term it is important to be fully fuelled before starting the exercise.
The choice of carbohydrate is vital, choose complex carbohydrates over
simple and include sources like whole grains, brown/wheat bread, low-fat dairy products, and fruits.
Avoid excessive consumption of sugar and sports drinks containing added sugars.
The amount of carbohydrate one needs depends on the frequency, type, and duration of physical activity.
Competitive sportspersons and endurance athletes will require more carbohydrates than an average gym user.
POWER YOUR MUSCLES – PROTEIN.
The proper growth and development of tissues, cells, and muscles occur with the help of protein.
Consuming adequate protein pre-exercise reduces muscle damage, muscle soreness, and supports better recovery.
It is important to include lean sources of proteins like lean meats, low-fat dairy products, eggs, egg whites, and plant-based protein sources like beans, legumes, and soy.
One can consume protein intake alone or pair it up with carbohydrates. consume a portion of protein at each mealtime and spread it throughout the day.
ADD IN A LITTLE AMOUNT OF HEALTHY FATS.
Don’t make fats culprits. Moderate amounts of fat in your meals will make no harm.
After carbohydrates when the glycogen stores are depleted the body uses fats as an alternative energy source.
The type of fat consumed is most important. Replace saturated fats with unsaturated ones and include healthy fats like avocados, nuts, and oilseeds, nut butter, olive oil, etc. consuming anything in excess will have a negative side so keep a check on your portion size.
Water intake is extremely essential for the body to function properly. Water helps in regulating body temperature and enhances the nutrient transport system. Water also lubricates the joints.
Ideally, the water consumption varies for each individual however the factors assessed are common- heat, humidity, sweat rate and time of the workout.
Assessment of fluid is necessary to evaluate the quantity required for the replacement of hydration status.
For every pound lost during a workout, about sixteen to twenty-five ounces of water should be consumed. if your water intake is less, it can put your body into a state of dehydration where it is unable to perform optimally.
Dehydration leads to fatigue, muscle cramping and in extreme cases loss of consciousness.
Water also regulates the electrolyte balance in the body and is the most beneficial drink for the body over sugary sports drinks.
All athletes, whether elite or recreational, benefit from consuming a diet containing carbohydrates to meet the demands of the workout, protein scheduled with exercise, and healthy fats to reinforce physical activity and competition. To attain peak performance, all sportspersons should eat regular meals and snacks.
Relying on a pre – workout snack to provide enough energy if an athlete has not been eating well in the days leading up to a workout or competitive event will not be sufficient for maximizing performance.
Lastly, athletes might want to consider the cost: is an expensive protein recovery shake worth the extra cost when low-fat chocolate milk or a hard-boiled egg provides high-quality protein at a fraction of the cost.