What you eat before a workout can be the difference between a successful training session and an unsuccessful one. It can also affect how well you build muscle and lose fat.
Like most fitness enthusiasts, I’m sure you’ve heard a few “experts” say that it’s important to eat carbohydrates and fats before a workout to maximize performance.
That is very true. You should eat both carbs and fats before your workouts and here’s why:
Energy is key for performance
Before your workout, you need to make sure your body has enough energy to sustain you throughout the whole session. Indeed, both macro-nutrients are the most important natural sources of energy. That makes them very important in this regard.
However, carbs and fats are not created equally. That affects how much of each category you use.
Carbohydrates are an integral part of a healthy, balanced diet and offer the fuel we need for our workouts. They do so in the form of a complex molecule known as glycogen, which is stored in the muscles and liver.
On the other hand, fat is also an efficient source of fuel. It is actually said to be a more efficient energy source than carbs. Unfortunately, it has to be broken down into components known as fatty acids and then simpler compounds known as ketone bodies before the body uses it as fuel.
Carbs are therefore a more reliable source of quick, short-term energy, while the fats are more suited for long-term energy that is required in smaller, sustained bursts spread out over a longer duration.
The intensity and duration of your workout matters
If your workout is relatively short but highly intensive, carbs should comprise the bulk of your pre-workout meal. Remember that glycogen stores are limited and can only hold a certain amount of energy in the form of glucose from carbs. Similarly, these stores become depleted fast, making your output and performance diminish over a shorter duration of time. So, it only makes sense to eat more carbs than fat if your training session is short and highly intensive.
Fat provides energy slower than carbs, but their energy is more efficient. They, therefore, make better sources of fuel for longer, less intense exercise sessions. To make fats a more effective source of energy, you also need to consume them between 1 and 2 hours before you start your workout. This will give them enough time to be digested and converted to energy and minimize digestive distress as well as sluggishness during your workout.
Choose the right quality
To ensure success, you need to consume quality carbohydrates like whole grains and fruit. This will help you avoid losing all your carbohydrates to digestion within a short time.
The fats should also be of high quality. Some of the best sources of fat include:
Both fats and carbs matter as sources of fuel for workouts. Their ratio however varies depending on the intensity and duration of the workouts.