Everyone’s requirements are different, based on their own physiology, goals, and the activities that they include in their workout. But, there are a few consistent themes in which snacks work best to keep you fueled and energetic during your activities.
When to Eat Your Pre-Workout Snack
Nutritionists recommend having your snack 45 minutes to an hour before working out. This way, you won’t be getting active with a full stomach. Also, your snack will have time to digest, so you are able to utilize the nutrients that you took in.
No time for a snack in that time period? Don’t worry too much. If your workout is going to be 60 minutes or less, a pre-workout snack is not 100% necessary. If you are working out for longer, though, or find that you do better once you’ve energized, a snack can definitely help.
Energize with Carbs
When we consume carbohydrates, our bodies break them down into glucose. Glucose is the fuel that our muscle cells use to work at their maximum capacity. Muscles store glucose as glycogen and taps these reserves when muscles go to work. To ensure that you have plenty of glucose on hand to restore those stores, be sure to consume healthy carb-rich snacks. Without them, you are likely to become fatigued early in your workout.
Carb-rich snack options include:
- Whole-wheat toast with peanut butter.
- Yogurt parfaits with granola and fruit.
- Oatmeal topped with fruit.
- Dried fruit and nut mix.
- A brown rice and black bean burrito.
Make Sure You Are Getting Enough Protein
Adequate protein is essential for strength training and extended workouts. When we lift weights or engage in other weight-bearing exercises, this creates tiny tears in our muscle fibers. These tears repair themselves when you rest, leaving your muscles stronger and larger than they were before. But, they need protein to do it.
If your workout includes extended resistance training, such as 45 to 90 minutes in the weight room, you can use the formula below to determine your protein needs:
- Divide your weight in pounds by 2.2 to convert to kilograms.
- Multiply your weight in kilograms by 0.4 and then 0.5 to get the range of recommended protein amounts for high levels of weight training.
So, someone who weighs 145 pounds will get the following results:
- 145/2.2=65.9 kilograms
- Multiplied by 0.4 and 0.5 equals a protein range of 26 to 33 grams of protein per day.
This amount of protein can be found in a four-ounce serving of chicken breast. So, it’s not hard at all to hit adequate protein levels for the day.
A few protein-rich snacks for muscle growth include:
- 1 to 2 hard-boiled eggs.
- A green smoothie with protein powder.
- A few rolled slices of deli meat.
- Low-fat cheese cut into cubes.
- Greek yogurt topped with nuts and fruit.
Hydration before, during, and after your workout replenishes the fluids that you lose through sweat. Electrolytes increase hydration of cells and are especially important on especially hot days or during extended workouts. Luckily, these minerals are available in a wide range of foods. While drinking water is usually the best way to hydrate, you can also add hydration through water-rich snacks. Some great snacks that are also rich in electrolytes include:
- Oranges, cut into segments.
- Sliced watermelon.
- A handful of strawberries.
- Tomatoes tossed with a light vinegarette.
- A one-cup glass of milk.
Varying your pre-workout snacks helps avoid boredom, as well as ensuring that you are getting a wide variety of micronutrients. Keep a few easy snacks on hand so that you can grab something on the go before you head to your workout. And, also make plans for a healthy, nutritious full meal soon after your workout. Replenishing the carbohydrates, fluids, and protein that you have used means that you will get better results during your workouts, and better gains from all your efforts.