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To fast or to feed? Pre-workout nutrition tips

U.S. News & World Report logo U.S. News & World Report 20/07/2015 Brendan Brazier

© Ocean/Corbis There are really only two options of what to do before jumping into a workout: to eat or not to eat, and there are certainly differing opinions about which is best. You may have heard the argument against eating pre-workout, to allow your body to burn more fat. I, however, always advise athletes I work with to eat – just a bit. The extra focus and intensity gained by fueling with clean carbohydrates and natural caffeine often offsets the intake of extra carbs – as suggested in Vega's free fueling and nutrition plans for running and strength.

As an endurance athlete, I choose to fuel up before my rides, runs or cross-training workouts.

What to Eat Pre-Workout

"Having green tea helps my body go the extra mile." © REX/Stock Connection "Having green tea helps my body go the extra mile." I like to take in a small amount of simple low-and high-glycemic carbs 20 to 30 minutes pre-workout for both fast and slow release of energy. I find this enhances my focus and improves the quality of my workout, therefore allowing me to train more intensely, which of course leads to fitness gains more quickly. Although I don't recommend a high intake of caffeine, there are times when certain sources of caffeine can be useful, and before endurance exercise is one of those times. To pick up the speed of my workouts, I do not shy away from natural sources of caffeine that provide energy without the crash. I choose green tea and yerba maté to help my body go the extra mile, since caffeine doesn't only increase energy but also endurance.

Thirty minutes before you head out for your workout, try my one of my five favorite whole food pre-workout snacks:

1. Clean Pre-Workout Drink

Having fresh fruits before workout is a great idea as is light and easily digestible. © REX/Food and Drink Having fresh fruits before workout is a great idea as is light and easily digestible. Clean pre-workout drinks are often the easiest to digest and most convenient on-the-go. I formulated Vega Sport Pre-Workout Energizer to have a blend of low- and high-glycemic carbs, as well as coconut oil and 100 milligrams of caffeine from green tea and yerba maté. Such a combination helps increase energy and endurance, as well as mental focus.

2. Fresh Fruit

One of the most convenient pre-workout foods comes straight from the earth. Fresh fruit is light, easily digestible and a great on-the-go option.

3. Dates With Coconut Oil

Pairing the high-glycemic, easily digestible carbs in dates, with MCT-rich coconut oil, gives you both immediate and sustained energy. Plus, it tastes delicious. 

4. Sprouted Buckwheat Energy Bars

Buckwheat seeds on wooden spoon. © Monkey Business Images/Rex Featu Buckwheat seeds on wooden spoon. Sprouting nuts, seeds and grains convert starches into more readily digestible sugar – with more energy available to the body immediately. Sprouted buckwheat is one of my favorite gluten-free grains. It has a bit of protein and fiber to sustain the quick energy from the sugar. I'll make homemade energy bars with sprouted buckwheat, dates and hemp seeds to eat pre- or mid-workout.

5.Trail Mix With Sprouted Nuts and Seeds

If you can find sprouted nuts and seeds in your natural health food store (or you like to sprout them yourself), mix them with dried fruit such as raisins, goji berries and figs for a balanced pre-workout boost.

How do you fuel up before you work out?

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