The saying says, "if you fail to prepare, you are preparing to fail", and the same holds true for each and every one of your workouts.
Every session in the gym should be treated as a battle, and just like any other battle in life you must enter it with proper mental and physical readiness.
This article will deal with the physical side and will teach you exactly how to prime your body before battling the weights with proper pre-workout nutrition.
A carefully planned pre-workout meal will ensure that you always enter the gym at peak strength and will provide your body with the necessary tools to battle the weights as effectively as possible.
The 3 main goals of the pre-workout meal are as follows:
1) Maximize your strength potential.
2) Provide a steady stream of balanced energy for your mind and muscles throughout the workout.
3) Minimize muscle breakdown and provide the raw tools for your body to begin the recovery process once the workout is over.
The first thing to make sure of is that you are properly hydrated before beginning your workout. Water plays a vital role in keeping strength and energy levels peaked, so always ensure that you've consumed an adequate amount of water in the few hours before you train.
Around 30-45 minutes prior to entering the gym you should consume your pre-workout meal. The first component of this meal is, you guessed it, protein. This protein will keep your body in an anabolic state throughout your workout and will help to prevent muscle breakdown as you train.
I would recommend that you consume 30-40 grams of high quality protein, ideally coming from a mix of whey protein and casein. This can best be accomplished by mixing 25-30 grams of whey protein in 300-400ml of skim milk.
Whey protein makes for a great pre-workout choice because it is naturally high in BCAA's, which help to prevent muscle catabolism during your workout. Mixing your whey with milk is a good idea because this will slow down the release of the protein and provide your body with a steady stream of amino acids throughout your workout.
Along with your protein shake you should also consume 1-2 portions of low-glycemic carbohydrates. Low glycemic carbohydrates are ideal before the workout because they are broken down and absorbed gradually in the bloodstream, providing your body with a steady stream of energy throughout your workout.
When you consume high glycemic carbohydrates that are rapidly released into your bloodstream, your body will release a surge of insulin in an effort to level out your blood sugar. This will result in a quick rise in insulin levels followed by a sharp fall.
The fall in insulin levels will leave you feeling weak, tired and sluggish. This is the last thing you want in the middle of a high intensity workout, so choose carbohydrates that won't cause this rapid fluctuation in insulin levels.
Pre-workout carbohydrate choices such as oatmeal, apples or brown rice will provide your body with a steady stream of sugars throughout the workout and will keep your energy levels peaked at all times.
This pre-workout meal should be fairly small to allow for easy digestion and to prevent you from feeling sick when you train. You should never workout without having a meal in you first.
So, just to recap:
30-45 minutes before your workout:
1) 25-30 grams of whey protein mixed with 300-400ml of milk
2) 1-2 servings of slow release carbohydrates (i.e. Oatmeal, brown rice, apple)
I also like to throw in a cup or two of coffee before my workouts as I find that this increases my energy and amplifies my focus nicely.
There are also 3 other highly important times throughout the day to pay special attention to the foods and supplements that you consume. to find out what they are, and how to properly approach these periods for the best possible results.