Muscle men (and women) and cardio kings (and queens) are made in the kitchen, not in the gym. Sure, hitting the elliptical, throwing weights around, jumping rope, or running down the west side highway are important, but nutrition is the base component of total body fitness. Nutrition provides the body with the fuel it needs for those awesome activities, and it also provides the nutrients for the body to grow and to repair itself. If you fail to feed your body enough protein, fats, and carbs or your idea of health food is Twinkies and Wonder bread, then you will only reap partial rewards from your strenuous activity. And for those of you who rush to the gym at lunch and skip meals or aim to lose weight by starving yourself after 4 hours of cardio, we hate to break it, but these methods don’t do the body good. Whether you are just starting out on your journey to total body fitness or you are a superstar looking to get to the next level, a carefully crafted meal plan is critical.
Can you drive your car with an empty tank or a tank full of milk (does the body good)? The answer we are looking for is ‘No’. Obviously your engine needs the correct fuel and your body is no different. The pre-workout meal is that fuel and essentially determines how hard you can work that day (hard work = better results). Your pre-workout meal should be a balanced meal of carbohydrates, protein, and fats.
Carbohydrates are important because during workouts, your body turns to its long-term energy storage (glycogen) and begins burning it faster than Professor Silber explains how to value a semi-annual coupon bond. You have to replace those depleted energy stores. Otherwise, you’re likely to hit a wall faster than you expected. Why waste your workout and your time?
Protein contains amino acids, which are the building blocks of muscle. Whether you are an aspiring bodybuilder (lame) or someone looking to tone-up (nobody knows what that means), strong and healthy muscles are extremely important. The efficacy of animal, plant, and powder-based proteins is widely debated. We prefer the kind that at one point had a soul or a face to other alternatives.
When it comes to fat, most people think that dumping it entirely is the key to weight loss, but this line of thinking is wrong. Fat is just as important as the other two macronutrients in this pre-workout meal, as it is the other main source of energy that your body uses to get through a workout. Believe it or not, your body burns more fat than carbohydrates at rest, which is why limiting carbs is a better route to weight loss than is limiting fat. This doesn’t mean that all fats are created equal. “Good fats” are the healthy alternatives to cookies and cake. Two of our favorites are peanut butter and avocado. Not only are they healthy fats, but they also taste amazing.
Now that you have the basics, we have done the dirty work for you. Here are some pre-workout meal ideas: try whole wheat toast with egg and sliced avocado. If that sounds too advanced a culinary adventure, try the whole wheat toast with almond butter and add a sliced banana on top (Elvis wasn’t too far off the mark). If you’re looking for a more caveman friendly diet (like Mickey) skip the wheat, and stick with the fruit and eggs.
Go forth and have a meal, see the improvements, and thank us later.
By Zach Goldman and Mickey “Scarface” Robinson