The Perfect Pre-Workout Snack
Which of the following statements best describes you? and your love for a pre workout snack.
a ) I am a die-hard workout fanatic and I wake up at 5 am to work out.
b ) Working out on an empty stomach made me pass out once. I have never attempted it since.
c ) I really just work out because my pre workout snack is absolutely delicious.
d ) All of the Above
Do you ever just feel like you need that extra boost in the morning? Like you have committed to setting your alarm for 5:02 am (and naming it “Get up Yogi” so that you remember why that wretched sound it interrupting your sleep cycle) but when you sit there, you just feel like you don’t have the energy to swing your legs over the edge of your bed?
I get it!
Confession #253, I hit snooze this morning! This yogi caved for the first time in weeks. Blame it on the Whole30, or the Low Carb Flu-like symptoms, but I’m feelin’ it today! Unlike all of you who supplement perfectly with a pre workout snack only to follow it up with a post workout snack, my body is telling me today that I haven’t been paying her enough mind! She’s been talking to me these past few days, but the grind is real and I’ve just been ignoring. So maybe I need to turn the tables and have you start writing these blogs – or maybe I just need to start taking my own advice and eat my own pre workout snack!
So! As a refresher for you (and a good solid scolding for me), let’s talk Nutrients.
Depending on the workout program you have chosen, the time and quantity of ingested nutrients are going to be directly affected. Are you simply doing a Vinyasa Yoga program? Or are you about to crush a 45-min boot camp? Both programs are very different and will require your body to make different concentrations of Glucose available to continue in strength + power until your very last rep (or downward facing dog). This is what we call “Nutrient Timing”.
How do you know that you have what you need in your pre workout snack?
There are a few different variables that are going to play into this! Do you have naturally low blood sugar? Are you going on a long distance endurance run? Are you about to break your PR in deadlifts? The question can be summed up as follows: Does your body have access to Glucose? How do you know this? Well, the easiest question to ask is: when was the last time you ingested sugar? When you eat carbohydrates, the moment they hit your saliva they start being broken down into smaller sugar molecules called glucose. (Glucose is the recognizable sugar which can be absorbed into the blood stream and sent to where it is needed).
Here’s a yummy example!
If you eat a chocolate bar sitting at your computer at work and will be sitting for the next consecutive 6 hours, no one needs all of that energy to remain at “rest”. To save your blood from becoming sugar-pickled, it’s sent through your Insulin mechanism to your liver to start Glycogen storage. Do you know long term what happens to these glycogen stores should you keep consuming more than your muscles and organs need to function? You guessed it! Adipose (“fat” for you non-science majors)!
The reverse is also true! In a time of need, your body breaks down Fat, accessing Glycogen reserve tanks which then is converted to Glucose as a usable sugar for your muscles to properly operate. But, this isn’t something that happens in a 20 min workout. Again, this is something that alters with your lifestyle changes! (That was to all the girls who weigh themselves after every workout…think: long-term!)
Muscles need sugar to operate.
Tired muscles don’t eat as much because they aren’t working as hard. The harder you work, the more sugar you will need and as a result, use for energy + burn baby burn. Once depleted, your Glycogen reserves are broken down and sent as Glucose to aid your sleepy muscles. Entiendes?!
Most people think what when they work out, they need to eat like a rabbit because they want to see results quickly! But these are typically the girls who end up binging at 10 pm because they’re absolutely famished since cucumbers have 0 net grams of carbs (your muscles need glucose to rebuild). Working out isn’t something that we’re doing because we need to fit into our cousin’s bridesmaid dress (although that hits pretty close to home), but is something we’re implementing as a lifestyle change because being active creates health!
For my mid-blog mic drop moment, I choose this: Give your body what it needs! Period!
If you heavily load up with carbohydrates as a pre-bedtime snack, when you wake up the next morning, your body is going to have freshly stored Glycogen to access, convert to Glucose, and you’re going to have the workout of your dreams. I do not recommend this because most people will wake up with a sugar coma since your body decided to digest food all night instead of rest, but that’s a rant for another blog.
Down to the Nitty Gritty.
What does your body need before a workout? SUGAR! SUGAR! and more SUGAR! The good kind of sugar! (Eat a doughnut before a workout, I dare you! Not the best choice though 🙁 although I will admit I have done it). We want our body to be able to recognize your pre workout snack and put to work the nourishment we give it within 20 min of our workout.
What is the point of eating it if it’s going to stress you out or be slowly digested and stored for later – Being of no use whatsoever to your current workout! Undo.
With all of this information now rolling through your brain, let’s get down to business. Eating an average of 30g Carbs & 15g Protein in your pre workout snack should be your goal!
Here are a few examples of a good pre workout snack:
Try a banana w nut butter, toast w nut butter, a handful of berries, a date based energy bar like Larabar or RX Bar. I encourage people to stay away from Fats before a workout! At least keep them below 5g. Eggs, avocados, too much nut butter, all of this will weigh down your digestive system and slow your absorption of sugar – slightly counterproductive! Conclusion: stick to a source comprised mostly of simple sugars!
Side note: Some crazy work out fanatics implement a sugary electrolyte tonic while they’re working out (Example: Watered down Coconut water with Tart cherry concentrate) to keep your body from depleting your glycogen stores too much. Depleting your stores too quickly will hinder your body from being able to give your all for as long as you need it to! If this is you and you’ve been tiring out too early in your work out, or you’ve found that a pre workout snack isn’t doing the trick – try this instead of or in addition to your pre workout snack and see how it works for you!
Now, back to your Pre Workout Snack.
Did you just say “What do I do if the thought of eating a pre workout snack makes me want to puke?” Honey, I thought you would never ask!
I know so many girls who find that pre workout snacks simply weigh them down, so you’re going to have to try a few things and see what works for you! Because of this I took a few weeks and tested out what worked best for me, keeping in mind that this journey of growth is going to be one of trial and error! I personally found that I’m a Banana/Apple + Nut butter or Cocoa Coconut Larabar kind of girl! Not too much, but just enough to give my body what it needs to break into my optimal workout heart rate! Simple. Easy. Delicious!
Now, let’s talk Post-workout Nutrition!
Just kidding, I’ll leave that for Part 2! How about them apple’s