Author: James O’Sullivan • Fact checked by: Gainful Registered Dietitians • Aug. 3, 2022
Working out puts our fitness performance to the test.
Through exercise, we show ourselves what we’re capable of. Exercise is when we see our potential, but in order to increase our potential, we should be mindful of the rest of our lifestyle. By taking the time to choose the right foods that supply us with what an active body needs post-workout, we’re able to get even more out of our next workout.
If we’re going to be putting our bodies to the test with physical exercise, we need to supply them with the kind of fuel and resources that help us meet any challenge. You know, workout foods.
Making informed decisions about your pre-workout nutrition can help boost your performance. That means you can get more mileage out of your workout, recover faster, and even reduce your chances of injury.
By familiarizing yourself with the nutritional principles that underlie a better workout, you can better understand how you can transform your meals into a pivotal part of your cardio, high-intensity, or other workout routines.
Here are a few nutritional components that will increase your exercise potential and the food sources that supply them.
When it comes to nutrients that factor into a better fitness program, few are as singularly important as protein.
Protein is central to the function of our bodies. It’s found in almost anything you can think of: our hair, skin, tissue, bones, and crucially, our muscles.
At least 10,000 different types of proteins allow our bodies to operate how we need them. Protein plays a role in everything from the chemical reactions that power our physical activity to the chemical makeup of our bodies.
Though it comes in 10,000 different forms and plays just as many roles, all protein is made up of a selection of 20 amino acids. Our body produces all but nine amino acids; they’re called essential amino acids because the body can’t make them on its own.
Our diet is the only way to get these nine essential amino acids. Foods containing all nine amino acids are called complete proteins — they go a long way in supplying our body with the amino acids it needs to function.
Eating more protein isn’t just an advantage to our workout but could supply us with a crucial source of energy.
The importance of protein in the body is clear.
But how much do we need?
The daily recommended protein intake for sedentary women and men is about .8 grams of protein for every kilogram of body weight. Naturally, this amount changes depending on a given person’s activity level.
So if you’re working out, getting more protein could better equip you for your fitness goals. Here are a few ways a higher protein intake in your pre-workout meals can affect your fitness.
If your workout consists of strength training exercises or other muscle-building activities, including more protein in your pre-workout meals can greatly help your goals.
Muscle protein synthesis describes the process by which the body creates more muscle from the proteins you supply it. Eating more protein before your workout gives your body the resources it needs to continue with this muscle-building function.
When it comes to effective muscle protein synthesis, it’s not just the quantity of your protein intake but the quality of the protein as well.
Whey proteins, which contain all nine essential amino acids, could be a far more effective resource for muscle protein synthesis than other protein alternatives, like soy and wheat-based options.
If you’re aiming to increase your muscle mass, consider eating more of the right kind of proteins.
Just as muscle protein synthesis helps build muscle, it helps repair our muscles so that we bounce back from our workout faster. More protein before your workout could later translate to a shorter recovery period.
One of the prevailing theories behind muscle growth highlights the importance of microtears.
Micro Tears are tiny tears in the muscles targeted in our exercise. While this sounds like a damaging effect, the theory is that these minuscule tears lay the foundation for better muscle growth.
By repairing these tears, the muscles grow back bigger and stronger. This is why including more complete proteins in your diet could be such a benefit to recovery. Muscle growth and recovery are closely linked, with protein playing a crucial role in both.
Eating more protein before your workout can help ensure that your muscles are bouncing back in better shape for your next one.
How can you include more protein in your pre-workout meals?
Here are a few quality protein options that can help you sustain your muscles for higher-quality workouts.
One of the most effective and delicious ways you can include more protein in your pre-workout meal is with chicken breast.
Like virtually all animal products, chicken breast contains the complete proteins that supply your body with all the amino acids it needs. What’s more, it is packed with protein. About 100g of chicken breast contains about 32.1 grams of protein — almost a third of its weight is protein.
You can prepare chicken breast in several ways, making it a versatile component of a wide number of meals.
Eggs are another great protein source that supplies you with essential amino acids. They’re a food that can be incorporated into your breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
100 grams of eggs contains around 12 grams of protein. Eggs are a cost-effective protein source that you can always rely on for a beneficial pre-workout meal.
Finding the time to cook and eat a meal before you workout can be difficult. Supplement blends can provide a quick, highly-effective source of protein that could help sustain your workout with your protein needs.
Unlike a knockoff protein bar, Gainful’s Personalized Protein Blend is packed with rich protein sources. Your blend may contain organic pea protein, brown rice protein, whey protein isolate, or whey protein concentrate — whatever your dietary preferences, we ensure you’re getting the full spectrum of protein in each serving.
Creatine is an amino acid that plays a crucial role in your muscles and brain.
Creatine isn’t an essential amino acid; your liver, pancreas, and kidney supply your body with around 1 gram of creatine daily. Other than that, creatine is mostly found in seafood and red meat.
Creatine can be a benefit to your workout because it’s stored in the muscles as an energy source in the form of phosphocreatine. A higher intake of creatine may translate into a higher energy supply for your muscles to rely on during your workout.
By eating more creatine, you may be able to boost your workout performance.
Considering that creatine can be used as an energy source for your muscles, this means it translates into a number of performance-boosting benefits to your workout.
Here are a few ways creatine may help you work out better.
More Creatine, More Out Of Your Workout
The boost that creatine gives to the body has translated to real-world performance enhancement.
One study followed nine participants who were asked to perform two cycling exercise sessions that measured their performance.
The first session occurred before the ingestion of any creatine was given to the cyclists. Over five days, the cyclists consumed 20 grams of creatine per day. On the last day, they attempted the same exercise.
The cyclists fared much better after the five days of creatine compared to the first day.
Creatine’s performance-boosting effects have been well-documented in other physical activities as well. It’s been shown to potentially result in more reps in strength training exercises, fastest sprints, and other enhanced performances in high-activity workouts.
Creatine Is Associated With Support for Recovery
Another good reason to eat creatine before your workout is its potential effects in aiding recovery.
One study found that creatine consumption positively affected the athletes' improved performance during their recovery period. Athletes taking creatine could perform strength exercises at an enhanced ability than they normally could under normal recovery conditions.
It’s important to give yourself ample recovery time after a workout. However, when combined with responsible exercise, creatine may be able to help you bounce back faster.
If you want to include more creatine in your wellness diet for your pre-workout meals, here are a few foods you should be eating. Pair these creatine sources with a piece of fruit, sweet potato, whole-grain bread, or other healthy sides.
Including Greek yogurt, peanut butter or almond butter, and fruit smoothies in your pre-workout snack can help you pack in even more essential nutrients.
Salmon is a fantastic food for health-conscious folks. It’s rich in loads of nutrients that promote better health, not least of all is a strong creatine content.
One pound of salmon can contain anywhere from 1 to 2 grams of creatine.
Salmon goes great in a veggie salad, in a burger, or in a sushi roll. Salmon’s creatine content gives you an excuse to include more of this nutrient-packed fish into your pre-workout meals.
Eating a juicy burger is great if getting more creatine is your goal. A pound of raw burger meat contains between 1 to 2 grams of creatine.
Ground beef can be used in many meals, giving you a filling, delicious food option before you exercise.
Food sources for creatine don’t supply you with as much creatine as supplements do. Supplemental creatine can provide you with ample creatine far more efficiently than beef, salmon, or any food with a notable creatine content.
One of the most prominent nutrients in Gainful’s Personalized Pre Workout is creatine — after all, creatine is a central component to boosted performance and recovery, meaning it pairs nicely with some of the other ingredients in your blend.
At Gainful, our mission is to help you work out at your very best.
Our protein powder blends can potentially provide you with rich nutritional content that could cover all your pre-workout needs — all specifically personalized for you.
Take our quiz to start building your personalized blends and get more out of your workout.
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