Strength training is an important part of improving your overall fitness, and for women, it can mean much more. In addition to numerous health benefits, adding weights to your routine can become a form of personal development that builds strength in all areas of life. The purpose of this campaign is to celebrate strength training and the strength of all women, no matter their size or life circumstance.
There's an old saying, “Great abs are made in the kitchen.” Well, that adage applies to all of your muscles. Your pre-workout meal can make a significant difference when you’re looking to build muscle and improve strength. Before hitting the gym and lifting weights, you need to prepare your body for the demands of weight training, and there's no better way to do it than with what and when you eat before your workout.
Weight training actually damages muscles, creating microtears in the muscle tissue. After a hard training session, your muscles are depleted and ready for some serious nutrition.
What you eat before your workout will help achieve two goals:
-Provide enough energy to power you through your workout without hitting the wall.
-Start the recovery and repair process much more quickly.
It boils down to this: food equals fuel. How much fuel you have in your tank will determine how long and hard you can train. With strength training, a lot of attention is given to protein intake. Yes, protein is important to include in your pre-workout meal because it breaks down into amino acids, which aid in muscle recovery, growth and fat burning. But you also need carbs because they help increase your blood glucose level, which gives you energy. Because carbs are your body's preferred source of fuel, it’s easy to burn through your stored carbs (glycogen) when you strength train. By combining both carbs and protein in your pre-workout meal, you will have more sustained energy and potentially less muscle breakdown. How much time you have (before and during your workout) will determine what and how much you consume. The recommended amount of carbohydrates and protein to take in before you strength train is 30 to 45 grams of both carbs and protein, 60 to 90 minutes before your workout.
BEST CARB AND PROTEIN CHOICES
Sweet potato, oatmeal, berries, quinoa, banana, brown rice, sprouted grain bread
Chicken breast, turkey breast, egg, whey, cottage cheese, cold water fatty fish
-Make sure to stay hydrated by drinking at least 2 liters of water a day.
-Individualize your meal by experimenting with what works best for you. Some people can handle fat, while others find that fiber bothers their GI tract
Depending on how much time you have for your pre-workout meal before you train will determine what and how much you can eat. Here are some suggestions when time is a factor:
60 to 90 minutes Before a Workout (30 to 45 grams each of carbs and protein)
Bite This Bacon Quesadilla (from U Rock Girl’s Book - No Excuses! 50 Healthy Ways to ROCK Breakfast)
- 1 whole egg + 2 egg whites, scrambled
- 1 whole wheat tortilla (sprouted wheat recommended)
- 1 slice turkey bacon, cooked and crumbled
- 2 Tbsp. shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
- 2 Tbsp. salsa (spicy or medium)
- ¼ avocado (sliced)
- Coat a nonstick pan with cooking spray and place over medium-high heat.
- Place a whole-wheat tortilla in the hot pan and layer the cheese, egg and crumbled turkey bacon onto one half. Fold the other half over and press down with a spatula. Cook 1 minute and flip; cook another minute.
- Remove to a plate and top with salsa and avocado slices.
Nutritional Information: 359 Calories, 14 g Fat, 27 g Carbohydrates, 5 g Fiber, 31 g Protein
30 to 60 Minutes Before a Workout (20 to 30 grams each carbs and protein)
Chocolate Peanut Butter and Banana Shake
- 1 scoop chocolate protein powder
- 1 Tbsp. all-natural peanut butter
- ½ frozen banana
- 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
- Ice ( if necessary)
- Place all ingredients, except ice, into blender and blend until smooth.
- Add the ice, a few cubes at a time, until the desired consistency is reached.
Nutritional Information: 272 Calories, 12 g Fat, 20 g Carbohydrates, 4 g Fiber, 24 g Protein
15 to 30 Minutes Before a Workout (10 to 20 grams each of carbs and protein)
Scrambled Eggs and Oats
- 1 whole egg + 2 egg whites, scrambled
- 1/3 c cooked oats
- Cinnamon to taste
Nutritional Information: 232 Calories, 9 g Fat, 19 g Carbohydrates, 3 g Fiber, 16 g Protein