**In honor of August 16th being National Rum Day…
a pirate-y styled introduction fer ye!**
Ye lace up yer boots – er, sneakers – don yer effects, and rush out th’ door to get to yer workout. Ye start exuberantly, motivated, and energetic… but halfway through, ye start to slow like a laggard, and feel there just be no wind in yer sails.
Did ye skip a pre-exercise meal or snack, ye land-lubber?
Miss Elizabeth Swann, wide-eyed, shouts out. “According to the Code set down by the Pirate FNCE of 2015, you must give me 6 to 10 grams of protein with carbs before I work out; and Pirate ASCM says 200 to 300 grams of carbs in a meal; Pirate ISSN says 1-2 grams per kilogram…”
The pirates look at her with disgusted confusion. “We know the Code,” growls one particularly grubby pirate.
The Captain rolls his eyes at her, and says, “the code is more what you’d call ‘guidelines’ than actual rules… Welcome aboard the Black Pearl of Nutrition, Miss Turner!”
The topic of what to eat before exercise can be confusing. A multitude of different organizations, from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, to the American College of Sports Medicine; the Olympic committees, to The International Society of Sports Nutrition, all have their own recommendations for what you should consume before you go workout.
Thankfully, they all agree on one important point: do what feels best and works best for you! They’re just “guidelines” from there.
(Note: if you are doing light exercise, or anything less than 30 minutes,
this may not apply to you quite as much)
“Training Low,” or intentionally training in a carb-depleted state, is starting to be recognized and studied more. But currently, it is not a typical recommendation. (Speak to your coach or dietitian to see if this is an individualized approach that can safely be done for you, if you are interested) Normally depleted glycogen (carb) stores are associated with fatigue, reduced work rates, impaired skill and concentration, and increased perception of effort (it just feels so darn hard to do things you normally could do.) So generally it is recommended that you consume some proper foods before physical activity to help fuel you towards your goals of weight loss and/or muscle gain.
Having something to eat before going to exercise can greatly enhance your efforts. Eating some carbohydrate foods will give you fuel in your body to help push harder in your workout. A little bit of protein will help with muscle feeding and repair. Hydration is also key, as even mild dehydration can cause drops in your performance, which usually means fewer calories burned or less weights moved. Why not get the most gusto for your gold?
It is the amounts, timing, and form of food that are highly dependent upon your own preferences and tolerances. The goal is to provide enough food and fuel before your workout that you can achieve a top-notch effort without feeling hungry, but not too much nor too close to the workout time as to cause cramping, nausea, or other stomach distress.
If you eat 3-4 hours before you exercise, you may do better with a more meal-sized intake. If you eat only 1-2 hours before, a snack will usually do. If you don’t have time to eat that far in advance, a small snack or liquid form may sit best without causing cramping or nausea. Just make sure you’re not undoing your weight goals by consuming excess calories! Plan ahead to spread your food out around your workout time, rather than adding extra food, and find that opportune moment.
Pre-workout Meal Ideas:
- Bowl of oatmeal with fruit or honey
- Brown Rice and Veggie Stir Fry
- Whole grain bagel with chicken and avocado
- Salad topped with beans and corn or quinoa
Pre-workout Snack Ideas:
- Handful of almonds and a cheese stick
- Fruit and a ½ cup of yogurt
- Slice or two of wheat toast with nut butter
- Wheat pita and hummus
Pre-workout Drink Ideas:
- Low fat milk or chocolate milk
- Fruit and Protein Smoothie
- Meal-replacement drink that includes 15-30g Carbohydrate
And, to paraphrase Jack Sparrow:
I think we’ve all arrived at a very special place. Spiritually, ecumenically, grammatically, and nutritionally. Eat up me hearties, yo ho!
Dunford, Marie; Macedonio, Michele. “A Step-by-step Process for Helping Athletes Achieve Optimal Performance Weight and Body Composition.” Food and Nutrition Conference & Expo. Nashville, TN. 4 Oct 2015. Conference Presentation.
Patgieter, S. “Sports Nutrition: A review of the latest guidelines for exercise and sport nutrition from the American College of Sport and Nutrition, the International Olympic Committee and the International Society for Sports Science” S Afr Journal of Clinical Nutrition 26.1 (2013). 6-16. Print.
“Position of the Amercian Dietetic Association, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine: Nutrition and Athletic Performance” Journal of the American Dietetic Association. March. 109.3 (2009): 509-527. Print.
Campbell, Bill I., Spano, Marie A. NSCA’s Guide to Sport and Exercise Nutrition. 2011. Book.
American College of Sports Medicine, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Dietitians of Canada, a Joint Position Statement. “Nutrition and Athletic Performance.” Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. (2016) 543-568. Print.