Building a big, strong body is hard work. It takes time and dedication, but it’s not just about logging the hours at the gym.
Eating the right foods at the right time is also important and, although few bodybuilders would neglect to provide their bodies with the post-workout protein required for muscle growth and repair, pre-workout nutrition is often neglected.
No matter the level of weight involved energy is required to power each and every rep . If the necessary energy is not provided by food or supplements the lack of energy will result in a lackluster, low-intensity workout.
Worse still, it is possible that existing muscle tissue may be sacrificed to help top up the body’s energy stores. That being the case, it is vitally important to ensure the body has a constant, easily accessible, supply of energy available throughout the entire workout period.
The Importance of Carbohydrates & Protein
The body obtains most of its energy from carbohydrates and, often referred to as the “building blocks of muscle”, protein is vitally important for muscle recovery and repair.
So it is not surprising the Northern Arizona University of Athletics (USA) recommends eating a small meal (providing low-glycemic carbohydrates and protein) prior to commencing a workout.
The importance of Timing
For optimum results the pre-training snack or meal should be consumed 30 to 45 minutes before commencing training. This allows time for the digestive enzymes to get to work. Delaying the workout further will serve little benefit because, if left too long, all the energy may be released before the workout is completed.
Ten Energy-Providing, Muscle-Building Snacks
- Egg and Beetroot in Pitta Bread: Pitta is a low to moderate GI food, so it ticks all the right boxes and eggs are an excellent source of protein. Beetroot is also a carb provider, but it offers added benefits because tests show it has the ability to boost nitrogen levels.
- Low-fat Milk and Oatmeal Cookies: Oatmeal cookies are low GI and can be made more appetizing by the addition of a few slices of banana. Milk is an excellent source of protein, so a couple of cookies, washed down by a small glass of milk can be a recipe for training success.
- Lentil Soup and Wholemeal Bread: Lentils are low GI and quite high in protein. Wholemeal bread is also a low GI option so a couple of slices taken with soup is a winning combination.
- Bowl of Muesli (Low-Fat Milk, No Sugar): Provides a healthy mix of low GI carbs and protein—toss in a few extra almonds for added protein and taste.
- Chick Peas and Lettuce: Chick peas are a source of both protein and low GI carbs, so a small tin served on a bed of lettuce can be an effective mix. Sprinkle with black pepper, it will add some flavor and the piperine alkaloid that provides that distinctive peppery taste has proven thermogenic fat burning abilities.
- A Piece of Fruit and a Glass of Milk: Many fruits are low GI energy providers (apples, oranges, pears, grapefruit etc.)
- Banana Smoothie: Half a pint to a pint of milk blended with a scoop of whey powder, and a (not too ripe) banana should provide some extra workout pep.
- Baked beans on Wholemeal Toast (1 slice): Protein wise the amino acids provided are very similar to that of a stake, but beans on toast offers the added benefit of low GI energy and high fiber.
- Low Fat Yoghurt and Fruit: A low-fat yoghurt can receive a nutritional boost by the addition of a dessertspoon of blueberries, cherries, or chopped strawberries.
- Pre-Workout Protein/Energy Bar: Possibly not the cheapest option, but certainly the quickest and easiest one. Quality pre-workout snacks have been formulated to provide all the nutrition bodybuilders require for a successful workout.