Editor's note: this article was written by Brendan Brazier, co-founder of Vega.
Whether you’re working on improving your stamina, or searching for motivation, pre-workout nutrition can be the missing link to fuel your better. If you fuel correctly pre-workout, you’ll go into your workout with energy to burn, allowing yourself to push harder and increase your intensity.
Nutrient Timing Pre-Workout
Many athletes are nervous to tweak their pre-workout eating routine because they aren’t sure how their stomachs will react. A general guideline is to avoid foods that are high in protein, fiber or fat within the hour before a workout to avoid stomach discomfort. Keep a balanced meal at least one to three hours before you work out. Use the 20 to 30 minutes immediately pre-workout to top of your energy stores with simple, easily digestible carbohydrates.
Role of Carbohydrates Pre-Workout
Carbohydrates are the primary source of pre-workout fuel, because they are easily digested and absorbed, giving your body instant energy. It is ideal eat a balance of both high and low-glycemic carbohydrates in the 20 to 30 minutes pre-workout. My top choices are fruit, minimally processed sugar (like coconut palm nectar or brown rice syrup), or sprouted grains and seeds. I also like to add a bit of coconut oil pre-workout. Although it is not a carbohydrate, coconut oil is rich in medium chain triglycerides (MCTs), which are burned in your liver like a carb—not like a fat. A date with coconut oil is one of my favorite pre-workout snacks.
Should You Use Caffeine Pre-Workout?
Although I don’t recommend a high intake of caffeine, there are times with certain sources of caffeine can be useful, and before endurance exercise is one of those times. Caffeine works as an ergogenic aid: it improves endurance performance, increases alertness and concentration, and supports mental focus. I recommend choosing holistic stimulants such as green tea and yerba maté. It’s important to remember that the more caffeine you consume, the more you need to consume to achieve the same effect, regardless of whether you’re using caffeine to get you through the morning, or to give you a performance boost. If you have a big event or race coming off, work on removing all sources of caffeine from your diet for a minimum of three days.
My 4 Go-To Sources of Pre-Workout Fuel:
Dates: High-glycemic and easily digestible carbohydrate, best eaten 30 minutes before a workout. You can eat them dry, or blend with coconut oil and agave to make a spread for toast, or toss them in a smoothie.
Coconut Oil: Source of MCTs. Try using coconut oil instead of butter 1 to 3 hours pre-workout, or blending with dates immediately before you work out.
Green Tea: Caffeine from green tea feels steadier and less jittery than the spike and crash with caffeine from coffee. This is likely because green tea contains L0theanine, an amino acid found in tea that helps promote relaxation. Drink hot or cold pre-workout
Yerba Mate: Rich in antioxidants, phytonutrients and electrolytes. Drink hot or cold pre-workout.
Vega Pre-Workout Energizer: One of my favorite easy-to-digest pre-workout products.
Originally published in Thrive Energy Cookbook, Penguin Canada Serves 1 Prep Time: 2 to 3 minutes Special Equipment: high-speed blender
- 4 fresh or frozen strawberries
- 1/3 cup chopped pineapple
- 1/4 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
- 1 scoop acai berry–flavor Vega Sport Pre-Workout Energizer
- 1/2 cup coconut water
- 1/2 cup acai berry juice
- 1 Tbsp agave nectar or maple syrup (optional)
- About 2 cups ice cubes