It can be difficult to tell what the best pre-workout foods are, and particularly what types of macros are best to fuel your sweat-a-thon. There is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to macros, and there can also be variations between the meal portions: preworkout foods for men and preworkout foods for women. While we know that there are three macronutrients, we discuss, arguably, the most important one of them all in this good pre-workout foods: protein blog.
Shortly you’re going to see that most of the foods recommended for any healthy diet will include protein for pre-workout meals. Luckily for you, we have short-listed the best pre-workout foods to ensure your energy levels don’t deplete mid-workout and you fuel your body with the best sources of protein.
What is protein?
Protein is one of the three macronutrients required to maintain a healthy body. It is composed of 20 amino acids, 9 of which are called essential amino acids, need to be obtained from food sources. When protein is ingested, it is broken down to amino acids. Protein comprises many parts of the body, including hair, nails, muscle, bone and so on. It can be considered the building blocks that support growth and repair of tissue in the body as well as contributing to basic bodily functioning. Examples include making enzymes and horomones, supporting muscle synthesis and acting as a carrier for haemoglobin (carrying oxygen around the body).
It’s a key constituent in maintaining and repairing muscles in the body. This is particularly pertinent following a workout when muscle catabolism occurs (i.e. muscle breakdown). Proteins swoop in like an army to help repair the muscles in a process called muscle anabolism. That is why as you read on you’ll see that protein is an important component in any pre-workout snack or pre-workout meal. Hence, many pre-workout feeds will include ingredients with the highest protein foods available.
Why do I need to eat protein?
Protein is constantly being broken down within the body. Unlike carbohydrates and fats, protein cannot be stored in the body; consequently, there is no reservoir to pull from if protein levels drop. Therefore, we need to nourish our body with protein to ensure the we don’t run low.
So what are the signs of protein deficiency? Well, dietary protein deficiencies can lead to an array of problems including:
- Brittle nails/hair
- Skin lesions
- Loss of muscle
- Increase appetite and cravings for foods
- Growth inhibition (in children)
- Increased risk of infections
Whether you’re an athlete or not, it’s crucial to consume sufficient amounts of protein maintaining a healthy body. In the next paragraph, you’ll be provided with a high protein food list.
Lean meats and poultry include chicken, turkey, steak or lean ground mince are high in protein and low in saturated fat.
Fish also features on our high protein pre-workout foods as it’s an excellent source of protein and also omega 3! Some of the best sources include tuna, cod, shrimp and salmon.
Greek yoghurt topped with fruits is a quick and convenient way to get some protein and carbs in. Why not blend them up and make a smoothie!
Eggs are a natural healthy source of protein. They are very versatile and can be quickly whipped up with some toast to fuel your workout.
Protein powder is a lean protein source and one of the highest protein foods available. Try making a protein shake or adding a scoop to your porridge (proats = protein + oats) to add some flavour and bulk to it. I personally love the chocolate flavour.
Protein bars also are handy if you’re out and about and in need of quick protein snack preworkout. Tip: Check the ingredients as some of them can be high in sugar. These protein bars are pretty low on sugar quantity.
Plant-based protein sources include:
Tofu: Tempeh contains the highest quantity of protein (30g per cup). However, firm tofu and edamame also are a good protein source for vegetarians.
Lentils are versatile and can be added to curries, salads etc. They’re also a good source of fibre.
Beans are also a good source of protein and can compliment a meat dish or be eaten with toast to offer a macro-balanced meal!
Spirulina comes in powder form and can be sprinkled over meals or used to make smoothie bowls. If you haven’t seen or tried spirulina bowls, you are missing out!
Peanuts offer a good quantity of protein (approximately 26g protein per 100g serving) and can be a quick vegetarian-friendly pre-workout snack. If you like peanut butter and banana, then you should try this peanut butter out.
Almonds, while not as good a source of protein as peanuts, almonds are still a good pre-workout protein source (21g protein per 100g serving).
Potatoes are full of nutrients and contain approximately 4-5g protein per medium sized potato.
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- Include protein in most meals, it’s optimal, particularly for athletes, to avoid long periods of time without protein.
- Including protein in a pre-workout meal is important, particurlarly after being in a fasted state overnight.
- Try and get a mix of natural protein foods as opposed to eating processed/manufactured proteins for every meal. While we all know it can be difficult to hit your target protein intake for the day, it’s important to try and avoid processed meats where possible.
- If you are away or out and about and need something to keep the hunger pangs away, a protein snack can be a quick way of hitting your macros while steering clear of tempting sugary options. For example, I often carry a high protein snack bar in my bag. It can be eaten anywhere, packed with protein, it’s not messy and it’s tasty, win win!
- Avoid greasy sources of protein. You can control this by choosing healthy ways to prepare your food, e.g. boiling, grilling, roasting and using low calories sprays. Additionally, removing the skin and visible fat from meat will reduce your saturated fat intake.
- Take caution with calories in nuts as they are a calorie-dense food.
- Don’t overdo it on the protein, while we need a good quantity of protein to support muscle anabolism, there’s no value in consuming excess protein. The amounts people are advised to eat varies depends on gender and lifestyle (bodybuilders/gym-goers typically require more protein). The current recommended daily allowance is 0.36g per pound of body weight, which seems a bit low.
- For personnel wishing to gain muscle or lose weight, they should aim higher: on average 1g protein per pound of body weight.
- Protein intake recommendations for strength and endurance athletes ranges from 0.64 – 1.09g per pound of bodyweight, while people on a bulking diet can benefit from protein levels of 1.50g per pound of bodyweight.
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