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What to eat before you workout

Urgh - you're hungry and you WANT to fuel your body, but you don't want to see your breakfast again on the gym floor (seriously GROSS, team - it's not a badge of honour).

Some people (including me) hate eating just before they workout - cause, you know, I'm busy digesting stuff. BUT eating before your workout can keep your blood sugar steady, and if you're hungry, then you really should listen to your body. Didn't you catch my memo about INTUITIVE EATING?

READ NEXT: 3 simple steps to Intuitive Eating

Your muscles use the glucose stored in your muscles for fuel. This comes from CARBS, so you're going to want to make sure you have some of those, or your output/intensity will diminish as you become depleted.

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LETS TALK CARB-CYCLING.⁠⠀ I was having a chat with trainer @dsfukuhara about carb cycling, and it made me realise that there's not many people talking about what the hell it is or how it might be useful...⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ I don't want to add to the #carbphobia out there, so here's the SCIENCE behind it.⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ Carb cycling is a dietary approach where you alternate carb intake on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ It is commonly used to lose fat, maintain physical performance while dieting, or overcome a weight loss plateau.⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ WHAT IS IT?⁠⠀ In short, carb cycling aims to time carbohydrate intake to when it provides maximum benefit and exclude carbs when they're not needed - aiming to match the body's need for calories or glucose at the OPTIMUM TIME. Protein intake is usually similar between days, whereas fat intake varies based on the carb intake.⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ One approach is high carb intake on training days + lower carb intake on rest days. I used to do this when I was following an online plan and to be honest, though I'm super #anti-diet, I did get awesome results which I haven't been able to replicate since (sans carb-cycling approach). Maybe it's time I did a little science experiment on myself.⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ DOES IT ACTUALLY WORK?⁠⠀ The science is primarily based on the biological mechanisms behind carbohydrate manipulation. There aren't many controlled studies directly investigating a carb cycling diet TBH .The proposed mechanism of carb cycling is to maximize the benefits of carbs and teach the body to burn fat as fuel. While this makes sense in theory, more direct research is needed.In theory, carb cycling may help you maintain physical performance while providing some of the same benefits as a low-carb diet.⁠⠀ ⁠⠀ BOTTOM LINE:⁠⠀ Carb cycling can help you lose weight as long as you maintain a calorie deficit. Eating plenty of protein can be useful as well.⁠⠀ _________⁠⠀ #CFD #carbcycling #tffnutritionbites

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PROTEIN (alone or with carbs) has been shown to increase muscle synthesis (building) when eaten prior to exercise. I usually aim for between 20-30g per serve for a full meal, and 10-20 for a snack. Heaps of studies have documented the potential of pre-workout protein consumption to improve performance. It's also shown to be of great benefit within an hour of training, so if you can't eat before (like me), try to get some in soon after.

What about FAT? Some studies have investigated the effects of fat intake on athletic performance. However, these studies looked at high-fat diets over a long period, rather than prior to exercise. For me, eating something with fat before a workout makes me feel super sluggish and more nauseous, so I steer clear from it, but if you like it, add a bit in for a well-rounded meal or snack.

Turkish Eggs + Sourdough
Turkish Eggs + Sourdough

Here are my top picks for what to eat right before a workout:

Okay, so what's the right fuel that will give you plenty of energy for cardio and strength training, without withing you down?

Oatmeal, protein powder + blueberries
Whole oats are a delicious complex carb, with heaps of fibre to keep your full and your digestion system healthy too. Mix in your fave protein powder (about 25g will do it), and mix together with water or almond milk. Top it off with a big handful of blueberries and you got some awesome pre-workout fuel!

Tip: go the extra mile and add a dollop of plain Greek yog into the mix too for extra protein and creaminess.

Protein Smoothie

Add a scoop of your fave protein to your blender, a dollop of cottage cheese (trust me!) and a handful of frozen fruit (I love raspberries or mango!). Blend with water or almond milk and you're good to go! I love adding 1/2 tbsp of psyllium too for extra fibre.

Tip: add some greens powder or collagen too, if you're feeling extra healthy, and get it done in one!

Wholegrain toast + scrambled eggs

I actually love sourdough, but any brown bread will do (just check there's no sugar or crap in the ingredients list). Add 2-3 scrambled eggs and you're fuelled up! If you wanna prep this the night before, soft-boil a carton of eggs in bubbling water for 7 minutes then run under cool water and refrigerate the rest for use during the week).

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Greek Yoghurt + Banana + Cinnamon

Grab a bowl of plain greek yoghurt (protein powerhouse) and add some carbs with sliced banana. I love lady finger bananas because they're a little smaller and sweeter (more sugar = more glucose for muscle fuel). The cinnamon will help to slow the blood-sugar spike, plus it tastes epic, so just do it.

Turkish Eggs + Sourdough

I'll just let this recipe speak for itself: click here.

Rice cakes + Cottage Cheese + Chia

If you can find brown rice cakes, you're laughing. Top with cottage cheese and a sprinkle of chia or even a drizzle of honey if you like stuff sweet. A no-cook, fast snack that won't leave you feeling weighed down.

READ NEXT: Which TWO supplements you need for working out.

What do you love eating before a workout? Drop your suggestions in the comments below!!!

Sal xo

Sally O'Neil - Editor in Chief

Sal is on a mission to prove that healthy and nutritious doesn’t have to be boring – and that even while staying in shape you can have your cake and eat it too. After losing 14kg from adopting a healthier lifestyle, she shares her journey with others on The Fit Foodie Blog. She also works as a commercial food photographer and stylist, is studying a Bachelor of Health Science in Nutrition and Dietetics, and is the author of two cookbooks: Love Move Eat (Bauer Media, 2017) and Meal Prep Plan (Murdoch, 2019).

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