We spend a lot of time thinking about what we’re going to do when we get to the gym. We walk in with a perfectly-crafted workout routine, an ensemble that’s going to give us the mobility and comfort we need to focus on our lifts and a no holds barred attitude toward completely crushing our goals. But if you’re not fueling your body properly before a workout, none of that is going to make a lick of difference.
Your pre-workout nutrition is vital to your success in the gym. Fueling your body with greasy, albeit delicious, pizza isn’t going to give you the same results as a well-timed, balanced meal in combination with a great pre-workout supplement to get you going. Don’t negate your hard work in the gym with a crappy pre-workout routine. Learn what to eat, when to eat it and how to boost your diet with supplements that are going to give your workouts a leg up.
Watch What You Eat
The last thing you want when you’re lowering yourself into a squat is to feel the ghost of the giant burrito you ate before you hit the gym creeping up on you. No bueno. To fuel your workouts, you need to think of your food as just that – fuel. Consider your pre-workout meal as part of your workout and treat it with the same consideration you would your lifts in the gym. Getting the right nutrition before you work out will not only help you maximize your performance, but it could also prevent injury and minimize muscle damage, according to Authority Nutrition.
Before your workout, try to avoid foods that are high in fat. Muscle & Fitness says to aim to keep the fat content below 15 grams for your pre-workout meal. Fat is going to slow digestion, and that’s the opposite of what you want going into your workout. Same with fiber. Try not to load up on fiber before your workout either.
What you should focus on is protein. Try for 30 grams of protein in your pre-workout meal, according to Muscle & Fitness. This is going to provide your body with circulating amino acids, helping your body preserve your muscles, rather than breaking them down. You’re also going to want a quick, easy to digest carbohydrate, like fruit, white rice or potatoes. A fast-acting carb is going to push the protein you’ve eaten into your system and deliver the energy you need to do the work you’ve planned.
Time Your Nutrition
When you eat is just as important as what you eat before a workout. According to Authority Nutrition, you should aim to get a complete meal with carbs, protein and a little bit of fat (keeping it under that 15 gram mark) about two or three hours before you hit the gym. This meal should incorporate the fuel your body needs to power you through your workout and fit into your meal plan for the day.
If you can’t (or don’t want to) consume a full meal two or three hours before you exercise, you still need to be concerned with eating something to fuel your workout. Fit a smaller meal into your schedule about 45 minutes to an hour before you train, Authority Nutrition suggests. BodyBuilding.com suggests the same, aiming for a small meal 30 minutes to an hour before your gym session so you don’t get hungry while you’re working out and to give your body a head start on the recovery process.
Try not to eat too close to your workout, though. You don’t want something heavy sloshing around in your gut while you’re training to lift. This could cause digestive discomfort, to put it politely.
Get A High-Quality Pre-Workout Supplement
You know that guy in the gym? The one who’s always ready to go. He’s crushing his goals, he’s lifting more than you ever thought possible and he’s doing it all with a big smile on his face? That guy. He drinks a pre-workout. The right pre-workout supplement can be a game changer when it comes to your energy in the gym.
Beta-alanine is the ingredient behind that infamous pre-workout tingle that gets you jazzed to hit the gym. According to BodyBuilding.com, what makes it a great addition to the perfect pre-workout supplement is its ability to boost the concentration of carnosine in your muscles. Why is this important? Well, for starters, carnosine is a powerful antioxidant and the first line of defense against the buildup of hydrogen ions (H+) in your muscles during high-intensity exercise. If your muscles accumulate too much H+, it could negatively impact enzyme function and the muscle movements that support high-intensity output. Too much H+ and you’re going to be experiencing some serious muscle fatigue.
A pre-workout with citrulline is going to help you beat fatigue as well. It accelerates the clearance of ammonia from your muscles, which postpones the dip in muscle pH that happens during intense exertion, according to BodyBuilding.com. As your muscles’ pH dips, they become more acidic and that’s when muscle fatigue rears its ugly head. With a supplement containing citrulline, you can help stave this off as long as possible, which means more reps, more sets and less soreness.
Performance Inspired Nutrition’s Explosive Pre-Workout contains beta-alanine and citrulline, as well as arginine AKG and 3 grams of creatine monohydrate to light a fire that will power you through even your toughest workouts. As is the case with all Performance Inspired products, you’ll be getting the best possible all-natural nutrition to help you meet your fitness and physique goals.
If your goal in the gym is to gain muscle and get big, you may want to consider adding a creatine supplement, like Performance Inspired Pure Micronized Creatine, to your pre-workout routine. Creatine might get a bad rap (thanks, ‘90s baseball players), but it’s a safe, effective way to bolster the creatine your body is already producing to give your muscles energy.
According to the Mayo Clinic, a creatine supplement taken before you work out might give you the push you need to go even harder in the gym and crush your goals even sooner than you expected. “Overall,” says the Mayo Clinic, “creatine appears to have modest benefits for intense, repetitive exercise lasting less than 30 seconds.”
This means it’s perfect for a weightlifting session. Creatine supplements help your body to regenerate the adenosine triphosphate (ATP) in muscle, which, to make a long, complicated chemical story short, is going to give your muscles more energy to make bigger, better lifts.
Creatine supplements don’t seem to have the same impact on endurance demanding, aerobic exercise, however. So if you’re training for a marathon or trying to bike across the country, creatine’s not going to do you any good.
Pay attention to your pre-workout nutrition. What you put into your body before you hit the gym has everything to do with your workout performance and the results you’ll see from all of your hard work. Stick to quality nutrition, time it right, find a killer pre-workout supplement and, if it fits your goals, throw some creatine into the mix. Now get ready to set all new PRs.
Looking for something more to get you hyped up before you hit the gym? Check out Performance Inspired Nutrition’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for a heaping dose of serious fitness inspiration to push you even harder to meet your goals.