The benefits of a morning workout are many; excuses aren’t awake yet to creep into your schedule and derail gym time. But without the right fuel mix, it can be near impossible to complete the workout full steam ahead and reap the benefits of exercise. If you find yourself hitting the wall, it’s time to consider preworkout fuel. Whether you train low, are hurried or can’t tolerate fuel, let’s explore some preworkout options so you arrive at each workout ready to tackle the task at hand.
Keep It Simple
Preworkout fuel shouldn’t be complex or excessive. Whether you’re short on time or have a sensitive tummy, you can still fit in proper hydration. Avoid being the average athlete who shows up to the workout in a dehydrated state. Sip on electrolyte-rich fluids on your way to the gym or in the 20 to 30 minutes preceding your sweat sesh. If you’re running low on energy, a sports drink might provide the boost you need. If you want to train in a reduced glycogen state but still need a boost, a cup of coffee alongside your hydration can give you the lift you need. If you’re embarking on a serious strength session, adding in a protein shake before a workout can help with recovery after. A ready-to-drink option like ZonePerfect Carb Wise can be easy on your stomach, offer a splash of hydrating fluid and equip you with 30 grams of high-quality protein to support your muscles.
Consuming a nutrient-rich dinner the night before an early workout can work for all athletes and alleviate the need to rise early and cram in preworkout fuel. This evening meal also serves those who fast in the morning, so design this meal around satiating protein, energizing carbs and nourishing fats. Depending on your macronutrient needs, your plate might be divided into three colorful sections — one section containing high-quality protein, one containing whole grains and one containing colorful fruit or vegetables. By enjoying your preworkout fuel many, many hours before a workout, you’ll have time to digest and absorb nutrients so your fuel will be topped off and ready to go when tomorrow’s workout calls.
We ask a lot of our working muscles during hard workouts, and the time immediately following each session is our opportunity to repay and repair. Start with restocking glycogen with a lens of choosing carbohydrates that offer a host of nutrients in addition to calories. In other words, skip sugary drinks and lean into whole grains, starchy veggies and cereals. If you’re on the go and the thought of making a dish of whole-wheat spaghetti is laughable, rely on convenience items like ZonePerfect bars, which are packed with protein, vitamins and minerals in addition to carbs. As you restock, consider how you’ll recover. You need protein to stop muscle breakdown and begin the repair process. Consume 15 to 30 grams of high-quality protein, which will be broken down into individual amino acids. You need a blend of essential amino acids to repair muscle, and look for the amino acid leucine (find it in dairy, soy and other complete sources) to jump-start muscle protein synthesis. Here’s what a postworkout recovery meal might look like: Greek yogurt topped with granola and berries, ready-to-drink protein shakes containing high-quality protein, and a serving of fruit and whole-grain toast, two eggs scrambled with chopped veggies and shredded cheese.
Like preworkout options, recovery fuel doesn’t need to be complex. Depending on overall nutrient and energy needs, combining protein-rich options with a serving of fruit, vegetables and whole grains makes for a fiber-rich, satiating meal that can carry you for hours beyond your workout. With each purposeful bite, just remember, you’re made for better and the right fuel can inspire more movement throughout your day, ultimately moving you one step closer to your goals.
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