For us nutritionists, one of the pillars of good nutritional planning is the timing of nutrients, which refers to the moment in which we consume each food and this includes pre-workout supplementation .
It has been shown that an optimal intake of nutrients before exercise (pre-workout food and supplementation) can help you not only enhance your performance, but also reduce muscle damage.
Therefore, today I want to share with you what the most respected nutritionists usually advise about pre-workout nutrition and supplementation.
Each macronutrient plays a specific role before your workout. However, the quantities in which you need to consume them will depend on your individual characteristics and your type of exercise.
Just like a car before a trip, the most important thing for your muscles before a workout is to have enough fuel to perform optimally. In our muscles, the main fuel is called glycogen and we obtain it from the carbohydrates we consume.
The higher the intensity of your training, the greater the amount of carbohydrates used for energy. Unfortunately, these glycogen reserves are limited and you must constantly replenish them, consuming an adequate amount of carbohydrates during the hours before and after exercise.
Consuming around 20 grams of protein along with your carbohydrates before training will help you increase protein synthesis or formation, enhancing the growth and recovery of your muscles. This amount of protein can be achieved using foods or supplements such as Fit&Strong .
While carbohydrates provide energy for short, intense workouts, fats are an important fuel source for longer, low- or moderate-intensity sessions. However, it is not advisable to consume them in the minutes before exercise, but rather several hours before, as they can cause slower digestion.
Timing is key
To maximize the results of good pre-workout nutrition, you need to pay attention to when you consume each nutrient.
Try to eat a complete meal containing carbohydrates, proteins and fats, between 2 and 3 hours before exercise. For example, some pancakes based on oats, fruits and eggs; or a plate with rice, chicken and avocado. Keep in mind that the closer to your workout, the simpler and smaller this meal should be.
If you eat between 30 and 60 minutes before training, choose simple, easy-to-digest foods, such as fruits and a small source of protein. This will prevent any digestive upset during training.
For best results, experiment with different options and times for your pre-workout meal.
What supplements are useful before training?
In addition to foods, there are some products that can help you improve strength, reduce fatigue or reduce muscle damage, when used before exercise. Below, I present some of them:
Creatine is a supplement that helps you gain strength, increase your muscle mass and delay fatigue. Although the ideal time to consume it is right after your workout, it is also effective if you use it before in a dose between 2 and 5 grams.
Caffeine helps improve your performance, reduce fatigue, and stimulate body fat loss. It is mainly sold in the form of pills or pre-workout supplements, although it can also be found in coffee and energy drinks in very low doses. It is recommended to consume between 3 and 6 mg of caffeine for each kg of weight (180-360 mg for a 60 kg person), between 15 and 60 minutes before your workout.
Branched chain amino acids (BCAA)
BCAA (branched chain amino acids) are the acronyms that group together three essential amino acids: valine, leucine and isoleucine. Studies have shown that consuming a minimum dose of 5g of BCAAs a few minutes before your workout will help reduce muscle damage and increase protein formation.
Beta alanine is an amino acid that increases your carnosine reserves, a kind of buffer that helps reduce the acidity generated in your muscles during short, intense workouts. The recommended dosage is 2 to 5 grams per day, of which at least 0.5 grams should be consumed before training.
Pre-workout supplements are usually combinations of two or more of the ingredients I mentioned above, which can have an even greater effect on your performance. The appropriate dose will depend on each product, but it is generally recommended to consume them between 15 and 30 minutes before your workout.
At the end of the day, proper nutrition and supplementation before exercise is crucial to help you achieve maximum physical performance.
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