When it comes to getting the most from your workout, food is crucial. Whether you’re doing an intense cardio session or strength training with weights, if you work out on an empty stomach, you’re not giving yourself the fuel to power on through and exercise to the best of your ability. You should think of food in relation to exercise like petrol in a car. You wouldn’t drive your car without petrol – doing so, wouldn’t get you very far and could damage your engine. So why exercise on empty too?

There are some foods that contain the all-essential nutrients you need to really get the most out of your workout. Here are the some of the best.

It’s important, though, to remember to have any pre-workout meal one to two hours before you exercise. Eating too close to your workout doesn’t give your body time to digest and metabolise your food, which can lead to stomach cramps. And that’s the last thing you want when exercising.

Before your workout you need energy, and this is what foods rich in carbohydrates can give you. The best type of carbohydrate is a slow-digesting one. Slow-digesting carbs are ideal because they don’t just provide a good source of energy, preventing your body from tapping into muscles for energy, they also sustain you throughout your whole workout.

Foods high in slow-digesting carbohydrates include brown rice, wholegrain bread, sweet potato, oatmeal, and whole wheat pasta.

The building block of new muscle growth, protein is essential before a workout. It contains essential and non-essential amino acids that can improve energy. This fuels your muscles during your training and stimulates the process of protein synthesis – a biological process in which individual cells build their specific proteins.

Protein-rich foods include chicken, turkey, tuna, egg whites, and Greek yoghurt.

So you’ve got your protein and slow-digesting carbs, now you need some fast-digesting carbohydrates to give you a quick additional burst of energy. This is where fruit comes in handy. A piece of fruit can give you energy quickly and really kick-start your workout session. The glucose (sugar) in the fruit is also steadily delivered to your muscles while you exercise, helping to prevent muscle fatigue.

Good choices of fruit are oranges, bananas, apples, raspberries, and watermelon.

These are just some examples of foods that can give your workout a boost and help you feel the full benefits of your training session. However, if you’re exercising for a particular reason, such as to lose weight, put on muscle, or hit a certain fitness target and you want to know what foods will help you meet your goals, it’s a good idea to speak to a nutritionist.

A professional nutritionist from a medical health centre, such as The Wilmslow Hospital, can discuss your fitness goals and medical history with you. They can then put together a balanced diet that’s right for you to meet your health and fitness goals successfully.

There's no point wondering what is right for you when there are experts who can do the hard work for you :)

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