The human body is adept at converting the food you eat into energy, but it's more efficient at converting some foods than others. For example, carbohydrates are better for fueling high-intensity exercise because they can quickly be broken down into glycogen, which your muscles need to work. Therefore, if you want to train hard for a sustained period you should eat carbs beforehand. You'll also need to replenish lost glycogen stores afterwards, although the body can replenish glycogen from fats and proteins if necessary, so carbs are only essential after training if you plan to do more exercise later or early the next day.
For endurance activities such as long-distance running or cycling, your body can get used to burning fats as a source of fuel. You'll always burn a mixture of carbs and fats depending on the intensity of the exercise but if you eat more fat and train at moderate intensities, your body gets better at using that fat to fuel your activity.
Eating too little or the wrong types of food before exercise can lead to glycogen depletion, but you can also run out of energy from a decrease in neurotransmitters: the brain hormones that dictate bodily functions. Certain amino acid supplements can aid the body's production of these hormones. For example, L Tyrosine is a non-essential amino acid that plays an important role in the production of the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine. A hard-training athlete or bodybuilder may benefit from supplementing with L Tyrosine because it can help counter fatigue and the stresses associated with intense and heavy workouts.
When it comes to exercise, the most important thing is to listen to your body. If you feel excessively tired while exercising, stop what you're doing and have a break. Consider what you ate before your workout and how that might be affecting you fatigue levels, then make changes to what you eat before your next session.
4 of the best pre-workout foods
Natures answer to the PowerBar, banaans are packed with digestable carbohydrates and loaded with potassium, which aids in maintaining muscle and nerve function. The body doesn't store potassium for very long, so a medium sized banana before your workout will help you to keep nutrient levels high.
Oats are packed full of fibre, meaning they'll gradually release carbohyddrates into your body's bloodstream. This steady stream helps to keep your energy levels consistent during your workout. Oats also contain B vitamins, which help to convert carbohydrates into energy. Be sure to have at least one one mug full of oats 30 minutes before you exercise.
Fruit smoothies are high in carbohydrates and high-quality protein. Better yet, they’re easy to consume and are rapidly digested. People tend to skip fruit and other foods that are high in carbs but protein doesn’t break down fast enough to become fuel for a workout. The carbs from fruit break down quickly and the protein is used later to prevent muscle damage.
Don't be scared of the 'b word'. A slice of wholegrain bread is a great source of good carbohydrates. Spread some good quality peanut butter on the top, or have it with some cold meat for added protein and you've got the ideal pre-workout snack, providing energy and protein for your body.
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