By Jason Ferruggia
A good pre workout meal should be something that is very easily digestible, that enters your bloodstream rapidly and doesn’t cause any gas, bloating or discomfort. You want to be ready to go and amped up when you walk in the gym; not sluggish, bloated and weighed down. I recommend eating a solid meal about ninety minutes to two hours before training. This should consist of some light protein like eggs and some clean, slow burning carbs like oatmeal with fruit. Nothing too heavy, you don’t want to be full after this meal; just content. Be sure to eat your protein first in order to keep your energy up. When you have carbs without protein you risk getting tired. That is because when you eat there are two amino acids in a race towards your brain. One is called tyrosine and the other is tryptophan. When you ingest your protein calories first, tyrosine wins this race and thus sends the signal to your brain for you to be alert and energetic. When you eat carbs first, tryptophan wins and you end up with no energy, wanting to take a nap. So always eat your protein before your carbs in your pre workout meal.
If you are really trying to build muscle and gain weight rapidly you could even have another small protein and carb drink after your pre workout meal, about fifteen to thirty minutes before your actual training session. This could consist of some whey or rice protein and either grape juice, maltodextrin, waxy maize or dextrose. Around fifteen to twenty five grams of protein and twenty to forty grams of carbs would be perfect here. This will get in your blood stream rapidly and help elevate your insulin levels. Insulin is probably the most powerful anabolic (muscle building) hormone there is so having high levels of it around your workout is just what you want. This fast acting protein and carb drink will also help to blunt the output of cortisol (a stress hormone that destroys muscle and leads to increases in bodyfat). Not only that, but it will provide you with a nice energy blast throughout your workout and help keep your work capacity elevated toward the end of the session.
If you are on the road an in a rush, with no time to grab a solid meal or mix up a shake I suggest that you have some meal replacement bars on you at all times. The Greens Plus bar with protein is a good one as are the Raw Organic Bars and the Raw Revolution Bars. Cliff bars also make a good pre workout meal in a pinch. If you don’t have those and need something to get you through your workout I would suggest having a piece or two of fruit, at the very least. Running on empty is a prescription for a horrible workout.
Finally, if you need a little caffeine pick me up I recommended using green tea instead of coffee. It provides far less caffeine and is loaded with anti oxidants. If you are a big coffee drinker you should try to slowly wean yourself off of caffeine so that eventually the small blast provided by green tea is all you need.
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