While most people know they should eat something before they workout, they may be surprised to learn that the pre-workout meal contributes far less to your overall output during that session than they are led to believe.
When we look at the rates of digestion and glycogen synthesis (the fuel your muscles use), we see two things:
Most food takes about 4 – 5 hours to fully digest and become usable fuel.
Glycogen synthesis takes place on a 24hr basis.
While you can create a small amount of fuel from eating carbs 90-120 minutes before your workout, this pre-workout meal is more about blood sugar control and nervous system function. If you haven’t eaten within that window and go on to do an intense workout, you can experience low blood sugar. This can look like light-headedness and dizziness, weakness and even nausea.
It is recommended that you eat protein and carbs in this window and skip the fats, which will slow down digestion and can lead to less-than-optimal nervous system function, which prefers carbs as a fuel source.
So, if you are working out at the 5 pm class, what you eat for lunch is important for properly fueling your workout.
If you are working out in the morning, your fuel comes from your dinner the night before. So, it is crucial that you don’t skip the carbs at dinner if you want to perform your best at the 5:45 am class.
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