Getting the right calories before a workout
And how you could be sabotaging your own results
There’s no doubt that waking up feeling lean is a great feeling, I used to love it so much that I would skip breakfast and head straight to the gym. Yes I was hungry, and yes I often thought I was going to pass out, but I figured my body needed calories after the workout, not before. I specifically remember coming across and article on fasted cardio and how it could help burn that stubborn fat. By definition, fasted cardio is simply doing your cardio while your body is in a fasted state or starvation mode so it is forced to use stored fat as the primary energy source. Since I wanted to burn fat and knew absolutely nothing about the body – I figured GREAT!
One of my favorite sayings – nutrition is not black and white and one size will never fit all. What might work for someone who is naturally skinny or years of training experience, and 14% body fat is not going to work for everyone. Though we would like for the fasted cardio definition to make totally sense and work – that’s not how it works exactly. What that definition forgets to tell you is that yes, fat is the next nutrient used for energy but not the kind of fat you want to get rid of.
When you wake up in the morning, a very important hormone known as cortisol is high and will remain high until you eat something to release insulin. After a long period of time, cortisol will begin to break down muscle tissue. Lauren Antonucci, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Sports Dietitian, commented on the importance of carbs before a workout, especially for athletes. Putting science aside, the most important thing that she says is the fact that you are not going to be able to train to your full capacity and often times feel depleted.
Now that we know how important preworkout snacks are, its important to know which are going to be the most beneficial. Lets bust another myth here, donuts and Poptarts aren’t the answer. You want to focus on a carb + protein for energy and helping muscle breakdown before it even happens.
- Protein shake : whey protein, banana, and milk
- Oats : Chad even adds a scoop of protein (Proats?), baked oatmeal, homemade granola
- Greek yogurt
- Apple or banana with peanut butter
- Eggs with whole grain toast
- Handful of nuts
You don’t have to tell me twice to eat some carbs
Everyone has to truly get to know their bodies and find what works best for them. Not to say fasted cardio is the worst thing on the planet, but if your goals are sustainability, getting stronger and a true lifestyle change, it’s not for you. As important as it is to listen to your body, it’s also important to know how your body responds to proper nutrition. The information is endless and nutrition will never be as simple as we want it to be. But that’s also a great reason to constantly find new and better ways to treat your body.
Don’t be afraid of a little bloat or filling up on good food before a workout. You will be very surprised to how great you feel and how much better you will begin to look.