A question often comes up among bodybuilders: “What should you eat before a workout?” “Everyone is looking for the perfect meal or snack to consume before a session to have maximum energy. Nutrition is therefore very important in the practice of a sports activity since it is considered as the fuel of the body and the muscles. Therefore, it can be interesting to have a snack around a workout as before and / or after to meet the needs of the body. This can improve energy and athletic performance while having less fatigue to support effort. In this article, we are therefore going to take a look at the macronutrients in our diet in order to determine what we can eat before a strength training session.
Zoom on the different macronutrients
In our diet, we find 3 macronutrients which are proteins, carbohydrates and lipids.
Proteins are essential macronutrients for athletes and for bodybuilding practitioners . Indeed, according to scientific studies, it has been shown that diets rich in protein can promote muscle mass gains and spare muscle mass loss even during calorie restriction since they help to maintain and develop mass. muscle (1). Proteins are very present in our daily diet: as in white and red meat, eggs, fish, dairy products, legumes… We also find them in the form of food supplements such as whey protein for example.
Carbohydrates are the macronutrients considered to be the main source of energy for the body and muscles. The body can store it in limited quantities in its muscle glycogen stores. Carbohydrates are divided into two categories: simple carbohydrates and complete carbohydrates. Moreover, it is the latter that should be favored thanks to their low glycemic index. This means they can provide long-term sustainable energy without raising blood sugar. Simple carbohydrates provide quickly available energy and increase blood sugar.
Simple carbohydrates are great when consumed around training to provide immediate energy while maintaining your glycogen stores. There are exercise drinks like maltodextrin or dextrose for this. In your diet, we advise you to turn to complete carbohydrates which can be rice, quinoa, pasta, legumes, etc.
Fat are the macronutrients that can be beneficial for health, if they are composed of omega 3. Indeed, cardiac societies recommend the intake of 1 g / day of the two fatty acids omega-3 eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) for prevention of cardiovascular disease, prevention of sudden death and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease (2).
However, they take a long time to digest and are therefore not recommended around training as they will not give you any real benefit. You can find it in fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel but also in vegetable oils such as olive oil, linseed oil… It is essential to turn to quality lipids.
Why eat before strength training?
There are bodybuilders who like to eat before a workout to perform and have more energy, while avoiding an empty stomach. During strength training, the body and muscles draw on your fuel reserves so that they can provide intense and lasting effort. These stores are usually your glycogen store, made up of carbohydrates and sugars, which gets depleted as you workout. When reserves are depleted, the body will naturally draw on muscle reserves and therefore protein, which can cause muscle catabolism, which is clearly not the goal.
What to eat before a workout?
As seen above, we recommend that you consume carbohydrates before or during exercise, to have enough energy during your training. You can do this by taking training carbohydrates like maltodextrin or powdered dextrose that you can mix with water, BCAAs, or whatever drink you want. BCAAs are so-called essential branched amino acids, composed of leucine, isoleucine and valine, which cannot be synthesized by the body and which must be provided by diet and supplementation. According to scientific studies, consuming BCAAs before and after exercise has beneficial effects in decreasing exercise-induced muscle damage and promoting muscle protein synthesis (3).
We also advise you to have a snack or a meal about 1.5 hours before your session to provide enough amino acids for the muscles, but also carbohydrates in the form of oatmeal or fruits such as a banana or an apple.
As you will have understood, it can be interesting or even very useful to eat before a workout and to consume fast carbohydrates and / or BCAAs during the workout for better results.