Yes! A pre-workout meal, eaten three hours within your workout, can offer multiple health benefits that can power you through your fitness practice.
Replenishing your glycogen stores with nutrition can improve your energy level significantly during a workout, as your muscles are fueled by the energy created by breaking down glycogen during exertion. Heavy weight-training puts your body in a catabolic state, which can break down muscle tissue to use as energy. A solid pre-workout meal can prevent muscle breakdown and improve energy repair and recovery. Including protein during your workout meal can help slowly release amino acids into your blood stream, leading to protein synthesis. If you are breaking down muscle and eating enough calories, muscle growth can be improved.
Don’t forget to factor in the number of calories, as overeating pre-workout will add back body fat and cancel out your good work at the gym! Because fat takes longer to digest, keep your pre-workout meal lower in fat. A moderate amount of meat, approximately 4-8 oz or low fat dairy is beneficial because both contain branched chain amino acids which help both increase the rate of protein synthesis and decrease protein breakdown during and after your workout. Good carbohydrates with a low glycemic index are also ideal because they slowly release glucose into the blood stream, avoiding sudden drops in energy and filling up glycogen stores steadily, therefore helping you power through a tough workout. If you are fueling for optimal performance for an intense athletic event, more carbs should be added, whereas for muscle building, concentrate on a higher calorie meal with added protein.
Here’s a great recipe for your pre-workout meal, offering 21g of protein and 260 calories. Enjoy it, wait at least 30 – 60 minutes, then go get your workout on!
Greek Yogurt Protein Pancakes
• 1/4 cup plain, or any flavor Greek yogurt
• 1/2 cup rolled oats
• 1 egg
• 1 egg white
• 1/8 tsp vanilla extract (optional )
Combine above ingredients in a mixing bowl. Coat a pan with non-stick cooking spray and turn heat on stove to medium/medium-low. Pour all the batter into pan and wait 3-4 minutes before you flip it. (Cooking the pancake slowly is key, so it doesn’t break apart.) Flip pancake and cook for another 2 minutes or so. Makes one huge pancake.
Serve warm and top with your favorite ingredients (suggestions: berries, nuts, shredded coconut, fresh fruit)