Although many have written off pasta due to the anti-carb trend, it remains a great source of complex carbs, which help increase stored energy (glycogen) in the muscles. When your glycogen stores are depleted, your body starts relying on anaerobic metabolism for energy, which makes your workout much more difficult. Stick to whole-wheat pasta and keep your portions small or allow two to three hours for digestion before your workout.
The monounsaturated fats found in almonds and other nuts provide energy-boosting essential fatty acids such as omega-3s and omega-6s. The fats you should be avoiding before exercising are saturated ones like cheese and butter, which will make you tired and lethargic.
Lentils are a great source of carbs, protein, fiber, B vitamins, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, calcium, and copper. They will provide you with a great pre-workout energy boost and they’re also low in fat and calories, so they make for a great all-around snack.
The magnesium in yogurt can give you an energy kick for your workout as it activates enzymes that are involved in the metabolism of protein and carbs. It also provides the explosive source of energy used for lifting weights. Therefore, yogurt is a good choice before both cardio and weightlifting sessions.
Since oats are full of fiber, they are low on the glycemic index. Therefore, the carbs are released into your bloodstream gradually, keeping your energy levels constant during your workout. They also contain B vitamins, which are energizing, stress-lowering, and help to convert carbs into energy.
Carbohydrate Energy Gels
These convenient little gel packets provide a dose of concentrated carbs, roughly equivalent to half a bagel. As they don’t contain any protein, fat or fiber, energy gels are absorbed into your bloodstream faster and are much easier to digest than solid food. They are ideal for runners, and any other athletes that require quick bursts of energy to make it through high-intensity workouts.
There are many types of energy bars out there. Some contain mostly protein, whereas others are composed largely of carbohydrates. In order to boost your energy before a workout, choose a bar that leans more toward carbs. Although bars may be a little more difficult to digest than gels, they have the added advantage of being packed with a balance of essential nutrients.
Bananas and other fruits
Bananas are a very digestible form of carbohydrate. Furthermore, bananas are packed with potassium, which aids in maintaining proper nerve and muscle function. Since your body doesn’t store this nutrient for long periods, an intense workout is enough to make your potassium level drop. Apples, peaches, pineapples, and grapes are also good choices for an energizing snack.
Pre-exercise meals should be mainly composed of “slow-burning” complex carbs, such as fruits, vegetables, whole-grain bread, rice, pasta, and cereals. Given that they are your body’s main source of energy, 65% to 70% of the total calories of your pre-workout meal should come from carbs. Complex carbs take longer to convert to glucose, which will keep your blood sugar level consistent and prevent you from having an energy crash in the middle of your workout.
In addition, 15% of the total calories of your meal should come from protein. Because fat takes longer to digest, and therefore uses more energy than protein and carbs, it should be kept to a minimum immediately before a workout.
Avoid simple sugars, such as candy, in the hour before your workout. They can send your blood sugar level shooting down, leading to a severe drop in energy.