7 Best pre-workout foods

Confused about what to eat before hitting the gym? Experts tell Lisa Antao the ideal foods

We live in an age where people take working out at the gym very seriously but in numerous cases, they head to their gym on an empty stomach either because they have succumbed to the notion that one shouldn't eat before a workout or simply because they don't know what to eat. But this doesn't mean that you chow down heartily before your workout either. The key is to follow a middle path i.e. eating right at the right time.

Fitness expert Namrata Purohit explains, "Exercising with a full stomach is not ideal therefore eating at the right time is important. Even an empty stomach can distract a person during workout. The major source of fuel for the body is carbohydrate therefore it is ideal to have something rich in carbohydrates. Therefore, one must have easily digestible carbohydrates that can help prevent the hunger during exercise and give you energy."

Here's a list of foods that are considered ideal to eat before a workout:

Having oatmeal is great before your morning workouts, when you're running on an empty stomach and so you can't have a meal a couple of hours before your workout. Oatmeal is known to settle well and also a great source of energy. If you add a dash of fruits to your oatmeal, even better.

Brown rice with chicken
While a majority of people work out in the mornings before heading to college or work, there are those who hit the gym in the evenings or at night due to time constraints. For them, having brown rice with chicken is a good option. Nutritionist Dr Zainab Sayed explains, "Brown rice is absorbed slowly and a good source of fibre and carbs while chicken is an ideal form of lean meat and protein. Thus, making this combination ideal before a workout. You would require about 200 to 300 calories hence, you can eat about one medium size bowl of brown rice (30 gm uncooked brown rice) with two pieces of chicken."

Protein shakes
These are very popular among those who hit the gym. Namrata says, "Protein is extremely important for overall development of the muscles, bones and even skin. A protein shake is good if you do not receive adequate amount from natural sources. For athletes and people doing regular workouts, it is fine to have a protein shake after a workout, but not every couple of hours." She warns that protein shakes can have side effects such as kidney damage. Therefore, one must consult the doctor to know the recommended daily dose of protein intake.

They contain sugar and starch that give energy to the body. They are very rich in carbohydrates. Celebrity trainer Sameer Purohit says, "One medium-sized banana eaten about 45 minutes to an hour before your workout is generally enough to keep you going throughout your workout routine. It's like adding fuel to the body. But each person should understand his body and cater to his/her own body needs."

Peanut butter sandwich/Bagel with honey
Yes, you heard it right. But the trick here is to opt for whole wheat or multigrain bread for the sandwich and a whole wheat bagel instead. Honey is an excellent source of natural sugar i.e. energy. In case you're wondering about the calorie count here, Dr Zainab addresses your concern explaining, "If you're working out in the morning then have a brown bread peanut butter sandwich, since you have been fasting for the last eight to nine hours."

Energy/Granola bars
Eating a pre-exercise bar means you'll have more reserves during a workout. "Energy bars usually have carbs, which is what gives energy to the body. However, make sure your energy/granola bar has minimum amount of fat, proteins and fibre," says Sameer.

Curds or dahi contain calcium and proteins and a bit of natural sugar present in small quantities. Because it is easy on the stomach and the digestive system, it's a great option to consume it before an intense workout. Adding some whole grain cereal, fruits or honey to yoghurt will give you a quick energy boost.

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