It’s tough to narrow things down to a single most commonly asked question – but this one is certainly in the TOP 3.
“What should I eat or drink before a workout”
Side rant – I HATE the word workout. 2 reasons:
- “Workout” implies simply something that provides an immediate stimulus but is subject one’s instantaneous whims. I prefer the word TRAIN. It implies a bigger picture. It implies a long term goal, with individual sessions designed to take the lifter from Point A to Point Z, hitting scheduled and planned checkpoints along the way.
- When you and I say “workout” we may not be speaking of the same thing. For example, I might be thinking strength training and you might be thinking running routes and catching passes to prep for football season. Both are indeed workouts – but pre-“workout” nutrition is VERY different for each.
Here are some “workout” types:
- Strength Training
- Sport Specific Skill Work
Each of these can have different goals within the same “workout type”.
- Muscle Gain
- Fat Loss
- Performance Improvement
Hopefully now you can see why “workout” is such a trigger for someone like me. How am I supposed to tell you what to eat if I don’t know what you’re doing or what your goals are with that activity?[heading style=”1″]OK, deep breath. Rant OVER![/heading]
Now, back to my new PRE-LIFT “Shake”.
For the longest time, I’ve been convinced that a lifter needs carbs in his/her pre-lift shake. It makes sense, in theory, the carbs provide the lifter with gasoline for the activity to come.
But lately, I’ve been experimenting with NO carbs before lifting. The catch is this – I’ve had my carbs the day/night before, so my glycogen stores are not empty. But no carbs immediately before training keeps my insulin low which enables more body fat to used for fuel. Personally I notice that my mind is sharper and my ability to hit full speed is enhanced – probably due to lower insulin levels. Plus you never “bonk” when you run out of carbs and have to wait for your body to switch to fat as a fuel source (a process that takes longer than finishing your workout.)
Anyway, science aside – here’s my magic potion.
My previous pre-workout shake included whey, BCAA’s, carb powder (Waxy Maize, Vitargo, or Surge Workout Fuel), and 5-10g fat from olive oil.
To make it simple, I dropped the carb powder.
To make it delicoius, I added chocolate whey, unflavored BCAA powder, stevia, and 5-10g fat from grass-fed butter to a cup of coffee. Hit pulse on the blender for a few seconds and sip on the way to the gym.
And it does the trick! As I said above, my mind and body just feel sharper – it’s hard to explain, but no doubt comes from the fact that insulin is not elevated during training anymore.
Here’s the recipe:
- 1 large cup of coffee (12-16oz)
- 25 chocolate whey protein (vanilla can work also)
- 5g BCAA (unflavored)
- Stevia (or splenda to taste)
- 8g grass-fed butter or coconut oil
**Technically, this does not have to be limited to pre-training. Since there are no carbs, you can actually have this as anytime snack or meal when you need a boost. You can even use decaf coffee to further increase the number of situations in which you drink this.
Give it a shot and let me know your feedback!