Ahh, snacking – one of life’s simple splendors that seems to make just about every situation better (don’t try to tell me that 8 hour plane ride wasn’t just a tiny bit more tolerable because of the snack stash you snuck on board!). If you’re a self-proclaimed serial snacker, we’ve got some pretty fabulous nosh-news: not only are these marvelous mini meals enjoyable, but they are super important for slamming out one particular area of your #bestlife routine: your workouts!
How you fuel your fitness can play a HUGE role in your exercise performance, progress, and recovery! And while you may need to do a bit of adjusting to your munching depending on what type of sweat sesh you’ve got scheduled, there are a few snacking standards to keep in mind. So go grab yourself a bite and let’s dig in to some fitness foodie facts!
Pre-Burn Bites: What to keep in mind when snacking before you grind
You’ve gone through your pre-workout, pump-up routine: you’ve given yourself the motivational (or maybe threatening…bikini season is coming in hot!) pre-workout pep talk, you’ve blasted some Beyonce, you’ve pulled on your fave lulus, and laced up your nikes. You’re ready to get your fit on!
Not so fast! If you’re looking to have a quality sweat sesh, you first need to fuel up with a proper mix of fit-approved foods, at least 30 minutes prior to heading out to hustle. So what’re the best foods to have before that gym time grind? Let’s break it down.
Kick it off with carbs
Lately, the no-carb campaign has gained a lot of traction (we’re looking at you, you crazy Keto kids)! But prior to a workout, you want to make carbohydrates your main compadre. From head to toe, your body relies on carbs for energy. Seriously! Glucose (a carbohydrate building block) is your brain’s favorite fuel source, and your muscles (even the tiniest ones all the way down to your pinky toe) store it in the form glycogen. When you’re hustling hard-core, your body dips into those glycogen stores to break it down and release glucose, that energy elixir, into your bloodstream. However, if you burn through that fuel too quickly, you’ll find yourself running on fumes mid fit fest. That’s where your pre-sweat snack comes in! By consuming a carb source before your workout, you ensure that there’s ample glucose floating around your system, ready to be put to use as you hustle for the muscle!
Since i’m guessing you want to avoid the dreaded mid-workout “wall” (that terrible, “I’m about to hop off this treadmill and take a nap for eternity” feeling), here are a few carb source queens to include in your pre-grind grub.
- Live Pure Superfood Smoothie – Clean, natural sugars coming from fruits and other wholesome superfood ingredients is quite literally the perfect way to boost your burn – click here to look at some of our go-to pre-workout recipes, delish!
- Overnight Oats – Oats provide great carbs for energy. We love 1 cup of plant based milk, 1/2 cup of oats, 1 tablespoon of organic maple syrup, and a dash of organic vanilla extract and cinnamon. Refrigerate them overnight, wake up to a drool worthy meal, & top it off with fruit and nuts!
- Medjool Dates – Packed with slow burning carbohydrates which means ENERGY! Nibble on 2-4 dates and you’ll be one step closer to slaying your workout. Side note: they taste like candy and completely make you say adios to your sugar cravings.
- Bananas – Easily digestible carbs and high content of potassium makes this fan favorite an ideal snack!
Now that we’ve tackled the most important component of your pre-exercise eating, lets jump into another macronutrient MAJOR KEY (DJ Khaled fans out there?)!
Power Up with Protein
Depending on what style of sweat sesh your going to partake in, your pre-workout protein mileage may vary. If you’re planning to dabble with the dumbbells for some resistance training, you’ll need to factor in a bit more of the muscle building good stuff than someone who is lacing up for a run or other form of cardio. However, no matter what you’re up to, protein needs to make an appearance.
During physical activity, your muscles experience micro-tearing as a result of repetitive movement patterns or force production (like when you’re going #beastmode lifting weights). To repair these tiny tears, your body relies on essential amino acids, which happen to be the building blocks of protein. Basically, your muscle tissue is selective and wants to be rebuilt by the same macronutrient that it’s comprised of #youcantsitwithus. That’s why it’s important to include a protein in your snack before you get to grinding. Some of our faves?
Low fat yogurts
- Live Pure Smoothie: Add a scoop of your clean protein powder or a tbsp of your go to nut butter to your smoothies – you’ll be ready to squat your way to your #bootygoals! We currently are LOVING these recipes.
- Nut Butters – The perfect simple snack that gives you everything you need for a 10/10 workout. Cut up some apples, bananas, or add a tbsp to your smoothies! Carbs, protein, and healthy fats all in one – definitely a win-win situation.
- Clean protein powder – Add a scoop to your smoothie! It’s essential to do your homework and select a powder that isn’t full of crazy additives and weird ingredients: we personally love Vital Proteins, Health Warrior, Garden of Life, Vega Clean Protein, & Aloha!
- Nuts – a handful of this goodness will definitely give you the protein needed to run out the door.
One final plug for protein? It’s a satiating fuel source, so you’ll be a lot less likely to skip out early on your workout sesh due to a grumbling belly. And frankly, the thought of a hangry, sweaty gym-goer is a bit terrifying.
Final Foodie Facts for Prepping your Snack
We’ve covered the two nutrients that should be the Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper (the stars, front and center) of your pre-gym snack, but lets touch briefly on the final macronutrient-fats. While fats are a fabulous part of a healthy, balanced diet, they should be limited prior to working out. Fats are extremely slow digesting and require a lot more energy to breakdown. That’s energy that could be going to your gym hustle! Moreover, fats block the absorption of protein by your muscles, so the micro-tear repair process is stunted when fats are present.
On the contrary, carbohydrates will actually speed up protein absorption by muscle tissue, siphoning in those essential amino acids quicker than a kid running through the last Toys-R-Us #neverforget. And while I don’t want to make snack time into a study, research suggests that the ideal carb to protein ratio is somewhere close to 4:1 in grams. A quick example would be something like a small apple (20 grams of carbs) and a string cheese (5 grams of protein).
So now that you’ve mastered the pre-fitness munchies, stay tuned for what we love to eat post-workout to properly refuel and recover your grind!