In our previous blog post we took a look at the importance of proper refueling after exercise and how it contributes to gains in performance, while limiting the effects of fatigue, delayed onset muscle soreness, and stress on the muscles. Evidently, proper fueling after exercise is crucial for anyone with fitness goals in mind, so what of the importance of fuel before exercise?
During any type of exercise, the body obtains most of its energy from glucose in the bloodstream, and from stored glycogen in the liver and muscles (which gets converted into glucose). This type of energy may last for a short amount of time during high intensity exercise, and can sustain the body for prolonged bouts of endurance style training at moderate intensities. No matter what the type of training however, the majority of the energy used during exertion comes from what the body already has stored up, so then fueling properly before exercise becomes almost more important than refueling properly.
Almost everyone has heard that it is a bad idea to eat immediately before engaging in exercise, with the most popular example of this being one’s parents not allowing eating before going swimming because it may cause cramps. The reality however, is that certain types of foods can be consumed closer to training than others. To preload for a big workout, lower glycemic foods such as vegetables, brown/wild rice, and beans should be consumed in large amounts 4-6 hours prior to training. The reason for this is that the lower glycemic foods digest slower, and as a result do not cause a significant blood sugar spike that can cause the body to “crash”. Because their digestion is slow, they allow us to “store up” for the workout. High glycemic foods such as sports drinks, fruit and grains should be reserved for during-exercise fueling for long sessions and post-exercise refueling.
One must be careful then with their choice of pre-exercise fuels. A general pre-workout recommendation is that following the large meal of carbohydrates and protein that takes place 4-6 hours before exercise, one should consume 30-50g of carbs along with 5-10g of protein 1-2 hours before exercise. This small amount of protein works to spare protein in the muscles, and the carbohydrates provide some energy to spare muscle glycogen stores. If timing or meal-sizing proves to be insufficient, one can supplement immediately before exercise with small amounts of ripe fruit.
When the timing of nutrient intake and exercise coincide with each other, training can be maximized since one will have more available energy to be expended. Timing nutrient intake correctly before and after exercise contributes to larger increases in speed, distance, reps, weight, or whatever the goal of the workout may be. This mild boost to the performance of each workout can yield a major difference to our progress if applied consistently, and helps us transition into an even faster recovery.
By Coach Kevin Hehr
As founder of Ivanco Fitness, my promise is to ensure your journey in fitness is unlocked and uplifted. It was the summer of 2012 and I was burnt out - I had spent over 10,000 hours personally training clients through rehabilitation to health, and from health to strength. Young and old and in between, I worked with these individuals to help them create their best version of themselves. While this brought me much joy, I was stressed, tired, and knew I was limited to only a small group of people I could help in this way. I had worked with other coaches along the way, and realized it was time to build a team and create a system that would allow talented coaches to create meaningful connections with those who seek to uplift their lives through physical training. Having brought the right people on board, Ivanco now works as a team of trainers, kinesiologists, holistic nutritionists and administrative staff to provide a more streamlined and versatile experience than an independent trainer could offer. Yours in health, Ivan.