The Pre-Workout Meal is probably the 2nd most important meal of the day. Second only to the Post-Workout Meal which we'll talk about next time.
It's many times referred to as the "Four Hour Window", which is the 90 min before your workout, the 45-60 min that you actually workout, and the 90 min after. It's during this window of time that your body really takes shape if you give it the right kind of fuel.
So here are some basics to remember. First the extremes.
We never want to exercise on an empty stomach, which besides having ZERO energy also leads to the breakdown of muscle. So the whole "tone up" thing goes out the window.
We also don't want to exercise on a full stomach, which can lead to stomach aches among others, none of which make your energized to actually feel like training.
So somewhere in the area of 60-90 min prior to your workout is a good time to have your Pre-Workout Meal.
The next question about this topic that I'm most often asked about is "What should I eat?"
Well, your Pre-Workout meal really shouldn't be that different than any other of your meals.
You still want a balanced meal consisting of Protein, Complex Carbs, and Healthy Fats. But one thing to keep in mind is that the primary source of fuel for the muscles during exercise is Glycogen, which your body gets from Carbohydrates. So in this era of "Carb fear" that we have it's actually good to give the body a meal high in carbohydrates that are easy to digest.
Some examples that I like to use are:
Whole Grain Breads
Banana w/ small amt. Peanut Butter ( a favorite of mine)
Turkey Sandwich on Whole-grain bread
There are many more examples. One thing to take into consideration on which one to choose is the amount time leading up to your workout. If it's 20 min until your workout then you'll want to consider taking in more of a "liquid meal" such as fruit or vegetables juices or a sports drink. If your not working out for another 2 hours then your body has time to digest a more complex meal.
Whichever is the case for you, make sure you are properly fueled so that you can get the best results from your workout. Don't believe the myth that if I exercise on an empty stomach I'll burn more fat. Not True!
Next time we'll hit on the Post-Workout Meal!