Top 6 Pre-workout Food for a Robust and Healthy Life
With a mindset to lead a healthy lifestyle, gym memberships are rising worldwide. As the pandemic-induced lockdowns are relaxed and life returns to normal, people are once again waking up to the need to stay fit and healthy. And what better way to maintain your health than through regular focused workouts and a balanced diet!
Reports suggest that about 1 in 4 Americans went to a gym in 2019. This number grew by about 27% between 2019 and 2020, increasing from 58 million fitness enthusiasts to 73.6. While the pandemic, which started in early 2020, put a brake on this phenomenal growth trajectory, the numbers are all set to rise as life returns to the pre-pandemic state.
However, a note of caution. While the number of people going in for gym workouts continues to increase exponentially, most of them are approaching this in an unscientific manner. Prominent among this is most of them head to scheduled workouts on an empty stomach.
This is primarily because they either subscribe to the view that one should not eat anything before a workout or have no firm ideas on what they can eat before going to the gym. While this doesn't necessarily mean that you should eat heartily before a workout, you should balance the elevated energy requirements for a gym session.
The key here is to embrace a middle path — eating the right pre-workout food to balance energy requirements with your health and fitness targets.
The Popular Choices for Pre-workout Food: A Six-Point Agenda
Besides promoting overall health and well-being, bodybuilding continues to be a highly competitive domain. It is quite easy to draw inspiration from other participants in the gym. Therefore, unsurprisingly, we often tend to be in a state of mental competition, egging ourselves onwards to achieve that perfect shape and stamina.
This competitive edge, in turn, is key for the participants because it provides the much-needed drive for attempting more stringent workouts. Promoting a faster growth of lean muscles and higher performance levels requires increased time for workouts, higher concentration and deeper focus. Therefore, we may get fatigued during such a strenuous workout and be forced to seek a solution.
Pre-workout food and supplements can be of great help here, assisting us in staying more alert, focussed and energised during the longer workout sessions. In addition, these natural nutrition sources also help promote a quicker, post-exercise recovery so that we can resume work with minimal disruptions.
Of late, pre-workout food has become popular among enthusiasts. This surge in popularity has resulted in several alternatives, either natural or synthesised. While the options for pre-workout food have multiplied, it is advisable to consult a professional before choosing your diet regimen. Careful consideration of the underlying health condition could go a long way in ensuring that the intended benefits are received.
Top 6 pre-workout food items to help you here:
1. Oatmeal (with, or without, a Banana!)
Oatmeal is made from oats, considered among the healthiest grains on earth. Oats are gluten-free whole grain and serve as a great source of important vitamins, minerals, fibre and antioxidants. Studies show that oatmeal has several health benefits, including promoting weight loss, lower blood sugar levels and a reduced risk of heart disease.
Recently, oatmeal has emerged as a popular pre-workout food. It has made its mark for early morning sessions, including an early run that you would normally undertake on an empty stomach because it is not advisable to have a heavy meal a few hours before. Oatmeal, being comparatively light, can be safely consumed before such sessions and is known to be light on your stomach. It also acts as a great option for providing much-needed energy.
And should you be able to add a sprinkling of fruits to your pre-workout oatmeal, the benefits are only multiplied. Bananas can be used.
Bananas contain natural sugar and starch that give energy to the body. They are also very rich in carbohydrates, and even one banana consumed about an hour before your workouts can help you keep going for long. Trainers regularly recommend this fruit as pre-workout food for those looking to push their limits on the gym floors as a well-balanced choice of nutrients and energy.
Combining oatmeal and bananas can therefore be a great nutritional choice.
2. Brown Rice and a Side of Chicken
While many people prefer to work out during the morning before heading to work or college, some prefer to hit the gym for an evening or night session. For those who prefer the latter alternative, brown rice with chicken is a great pre-workout food option. Nutritionists feel that brown rice is absorbed quite slowly and is a good source of carbohydrates, while chicken is the ideal form of lean meat and the best source of protein. Therefore, this combination is perfect before a workout, with a medium-sized serving of brown rice with just two slices of chicken being worth 200-300 calories.
3. Protein Shakes
Protein shakes are very popular among those who regularly hit the gym. Protein is vital for the all-around development of your muscles, bones and skin. A good protein shake is a must if you are not receiving adequate amounts from your natural intake. For people doing regular and intense workouts, it is important to have a protein shake before or after the session.
Some protein shakes can indeed have grave side effects, including kidney damage, if used unwisely. Users should therefore consult their doctor/nutritionist to know their recommended daily dose of safe levels of protein intake.
4. Peanut Butter Sandwiches/Honey and Whole Wheat Bagels
Yes – you read that right. Natural peanut butter or organic peanut butter or honey is a great option for a pre-workout food, which is well balanced in both energy and nutrition. The idea is to select multigrain or whole wheat bread for the sandwich or opt for a whole wheat bagel instead. Apart from that, you can buy your Omega peanut butter online, these days.
In case you're wondering about the overall calorie count here, please remember that if you are working out during the morning, you have been fasting for at least 8 or 9 hours already. A brown bread peanut butter sandwich (or whole wheat bagel with honey) will help address the energy deficit and give you the much-needed boost to meet and exceed your workout targets on the gym floor.
5. Granola/Exercise bars
Eating an exercise bar as a part of your pre-workout food regimen means having more energy reserves during the gym or run session. Exercise, or granola bars, are rich in carbohydrates, which take care of your energy requirements during a workout session. However, we should look to make sure that the exercise bar has only the minimum amount of fibre, fats and proteins to ensure the maximum benefits from such a diet.
Yoghurts, including curd and Dahi, contain proteins and calcium, along with natural sugar in trace quantities. A yoghurt sits easily on your stomach and digestive system and has been recognised by nutritionists, worldwide, as an effective option for pre-workout food before any intense sessions.
Combining yoghurt with whole-grain cereals, honey or fruits will provide you with a quick energy boost and help meet several nutritional requirements at the same time. It is also a great way to promote targeted weight-loss regimens, if taken in a controlled manner.
Towards a Healthy and Fit Future
In the post-pandemic world, staying healthy is not just merely an aspirational goal. COVID-19 has driven home the validity of the age-old maxim: "Health is Wealth."
As the world returns to normal and we start resuming our pre-pandemic routines, we must remember the health lessons of this important phase in our lives. And the most important lesson here is probably the need to work out, not just to stay in shape but also to promote our health and overall well-being. This is a vital consideration for driving into a healthy and fit future.
At the start of the present article, we referenced the fact that global gym visits were growing at an exponential rate – a trend that is expected to grow only stronger with every passing day. However, your workouts need not just include intense gym sessions. A morning run, an evening swim, or even focused exercises and yoga sessions at home could help make a difference in your overall health and future fitness levels. The key here is to remember that while getting into and staying in shape can help boost your social profile, it is ultimately your overall health that is of vital importance.
In this regard, there is no better way to ensure the future than with regular workout sessions. Regularity and consistency will help you reap the rewards that lie in store. And should you be able to support your exercise sessions with a portion of great pre-workout food, the results will only be there for you and the world to see, appreciate and commend.