We all want to maximise our training capacity, there is no worse feeling than walking out of the gym knowing you could have given that little bit more. Sometimes it’s emotional factors, other times it’s physical…if it’s physical, then 9 times out of 10 it’ll be Nutrition!
Optimal nutritional planning in the days before a competition or bout of exercise is key to performing at your best. When you eat is important, but what you eat will either make or break your performance. Believe it or not, eating nothing may be better for your performance than eating the wrong foods within an our before exercise.
Avoiding ‘bulky’, hard to digest foods
60 mins prior to exercise is a pivotal time, eating easily digested, light foods such as apple and nut butter, a light oat bar or some dried fruit is optimal….but WHY? Eating a ‘bulky’ and hard to digest food like high protein chicken, beef, fish or pork will require lots of digesting. When you eat a high protein food the complex chemical structure means it requires more digestion by the stomach, so blood diverts to the stomach (known as preferential shifting). The repercussions of this shift of blood to the stomach means it diverts blood away from the muscle, depriving them of oxygen and glucose needed for exercise. So to minimise feeling sluggish and tired during your session keep away from meats and large portions of complex carbs such as pasta and rice within 60mins prior to your session.
Better pre-workout options
These include simple carbohydrate dense foods such as the above mentioned apple and nut butter, grapes, dried fruit, rice cakes and nut butter the likes of. Not to forget the role of maltadextrin here, liquid form supplements can deliver the same, if not more nutrition than a food source can but in a fraction of the amount. Just 300-400ml of a Branched Chain Amino Acid (BCAA) can deliver biologically available amino acids, and because of it being in liquid form it is effectively semi-digested. Consequently, the semi-digested nature of the BCAAs means the body is able to digest and absorb it in 20-30mins, this means the blood can re-disperse into the muscles where it’s needed!
So when you next go to the gym be sure to remember that the wrong nutrition at the wrong time is NEVER right (does that even make sense). So be methodical with your planning and eating, prepare foods and snacks that will give you energy as well as nourishment, and eat them no later than 30mins before your session if you can help it. Liquid nourishment is key in the final hours before your session/ competition, and combining this with the correct foodstuffs will put you in optimal condition to maximise your session.