The Advanced Guide To Pre-Workout Nutrition: Food As Fuel

We are always looking for different ways to improve our performance and achieve our goals. Good nutrition can help seniors function better and recover faster after exercise.

Optimal nutrient intake before exercise allows seniors to maximize their performance and minimizes muscle damage. Today’s article on Living Maples will discuss what to eat before a workout session.

Fueling the body with the proper nutrients before exercise will give the elderly the energy and strength they need to function better. Each macronutrient plays a unique role in this pre-workout fueling process. But the number of macronutrients consumed varies from person to person and for different exercises. The following is a brief look at the role of each macronutrient:

Carbohydrates

Foods rich in carbohydrates as pre-workout nutrition

Your muscles supply the glucose they need for energy from carbohydrates. In strenuous exercise, the muscles and liver’s glycogen stores are the primary energy source for your muscles. But in longer workouts, the amount of carbohydrate intake depends on several factors. Muscle glycogen stores are limited. As these reserves dwindle, so will your productivity and energy. Various studies have shown that carbohydrates can increase glycogen stores and consumption by enhancing carbohydrate oxidation during exercise. Carbohydrate loading, done on a high-carbohydrate diet for 1 to 7 days, is a common way to maximize glycogen stores.

Protein

Many studies have shown that pre-workout protein intake has a high potential for improving seniors’ athletic performance. Consuming protein alone or in combination with carbohydrates before exercise has been shown to increase muscle protein synthesis. Seniors may face muscle loss due to aging, and pre-workout protein consumption can go a long way in maintaining muscle mass. Research shows positive muscle-building response in the body after consuming 20 grams of whey protein before exercise.

Other benefits of eating protein before exercise include:

  • Better anabolic response or muscle growth
  • Improved muscle recovery
  • Increased strength and lean body mass
  • Better muscle performance

Healthy Fats 

While glycogen is used for short-term and intense exercise, fat is a good fuel source for more prolonged, low-to-moderate intensity workouts. Of course, there have been studies on the effects of fat intake on body performance during exercise, but instead of the effect of pre-workout fat intake, these studies have examined high-fat long-term diets. For example, research shows that a four-week diet with 40% fat increases the endurance run time of trained runners.

Foods to Eat Before a Workout

We will list the foods you need to eat before exercise to have enough energy for your workout.

Whole-Wheat Bagel with Jam

There are two types of carbohydrates: simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates burn quickly, while complex ones burn slowly and provide energy for a more extended period. A whole-grain bagel is an excellent choice for seniors to eat before a workout since it combines two types of carbs to fuel the body from the beginning of a workout session to its end.

Protein Shake + Carbs

a senior man drinking a protein shake before workout

Not all protein shakes are suitable for seniors due to having added sugars. You should pay attention to the label of protein shakes available in the market to ensure they do not contain added sugars. Seniors can also add some carbohydrates (carb-to-protein ratio of 4:1) to their protein shake. You can start with a shaking base of juice or water (milk can cause mucous), then add oats and a banana or other fruit to provide carbs.

Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt is a rich source of protein and carbs, and it contains less sugar than other types of yogurts. And unless you are lactose intolerant, it’s easy on the stomach, and it is ideal before moderate-intensity activities or bouncing exercises like jumping jacks.

Brown Rice and Chicken

It is one of the best foods for seniors to eat before a workout. If you are doing your exercises after lunch or dinner, avoid rich foods and have a simple brown rice dish with chicken or tofu. It is a perfect choice full of carbs and protein. Brown rice contains complex carbs, which helps you feel full during your workout sessions.

Legumes

Legumes that seniors should eat before a workout session

Legumes are significant elements of pre-workout nutrition. They have a high amount of protein and complex carbs, released slowly in the body. If you are going to exercise for a long time, legumes will provide your required energy for 1 to 2 hours. Don’t overeat legumes since they can cause gas pains. 

Bread+Chesse+Egg

This pre-workout food is a favourite of seniors, and you can eat it to provide both protein and carbs. A slice of whole-wheat bread with low-fat cheese is easy on the stomach and provides protein and slow-release carbs. Some seniors are sensitive to dairy products and cannot consume cheese, so they can add scrambled egg whites on top of their bread.

Caffeine Drinks

Caffeine drinks can help seniors have a lot of energy during exercises. Besides all its benefits, caffeine can improve performance, increase strength, help reduce fatigue and stimulate fat burning.

Caffeine can be consumed in the form of coffee, tea, and energy drinks but can also be found in supplements and special pre-workout pills. It does not matter how you consume caffeine; its effects on the body are usually the same. The peak effects of caffeine are observed 90 minutes after consumption. But it has been proven to be effective even when taken 15 to 60 minutes before exercise.

Timing of Pre-workout Nutrition

Meal timing is also an essential aspect of pre-workout nutrition. Eat a complete meal of carbohydrates, protein, and fat 2 to 3 hours before your workout to maximize your exercise efficiency. But if you cannot eat a full meal 2-3 hours before exercise, eat a light pre-workout meal. You have to know that the closer you get to exercise time, the lighter should your meal be.

So, if you eat 45 to 60 minutes before exercise, choose easy-to-digest foods that contain only carbohydrates and a little protein. This procedure helps prevent any stomach problems during exercise.

Final Words

To maximize your performance and recovery, it is essential to strengthen your body with the right nutrients before exercise. Carbohydrates help maximize your body’s ability to use glycogen to fuel short-term, intense workouts, and fat helps keep your body ready for longer workouts.

Eating protein helps to improve muscle protein synthesis, prevents muscle damage, and speeds up muscle recovery. Good hydration also improves the functioning of the body.

Seniors can take Pre-workout meals 2-3 hours to 30 minutes before workouts. But choose foods that are easy to digest, especially if you start exercising in the next hour or less. 

Source Health US News Discover Good Nutrition
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Robert Dube
Robert Dube
10 months ago

I always work out in the morning, before breakfast. But recently, I haven’t been able to work out because of my stomach discomfort. I said to my doctor about it, and he took some tests. Nothing was out of order. Do you think if I eat a light meal first and exercises an hour later, I’m going to be OK?

Brandon
Brandon
Reply to  Robert Dube
10 months ago

I think your problem is mainly because of your diet. If you watch what you eat, not even exercising, but all the other activities become easier. So yes, I think you should consider what you eat before and after a workout carefully and adjust your workout time.

Luiz
Luiz
10 months ago

Hello, I have one question, can anybody answer me? I am 63 senior man, my doctor said you should gain weight because after the heart surgery, I lost my appetite and didn’t eat anything! so after 3 months I got better, but I already so thin and my body is so weak! I start to exercise, but I want to know which foods are good for me in this situation?

Noah
Noah
Reply to  Luiz
10 months ago

If you lost your muscles, it seems protein-based foods suit you. But if your body needs fat to protect you against falling or hitting, a controlled diet consists of healthy fats can be helpful. But the best way is to consult with a nutrition expert.

Steven M Sharpe
8 months ago

Very effective information for me. Thanks for sharing.

Monica
Monica
5 months ago

Thanks for the great article. It answered many of my questions.

Liam
Liam
5 months ago

I eat a combination of complex carbs & protein with a small amount of fat.
I recommend eating it at least one hour before your workout if you don’t want to feel bloated.
I boil black channa, cook it in little oil, and add some raw vegetables.
Oats and one scoop whey(protein) and 2-3 walnuts (good source of fat.)
Protein pre-workout has many advantages; it increases muscle power, muscle strength, and improves muscle recovery and growth.

HappyCitizen
HappyCitizen
5 months ago

With all that said, I suggest visiting your physician before exercising and choosing the proper meal for yourself.

Ethan
Ethan
Reply to  HappyCitizen
5 months ago

That’s true. When my sister watched this ad on YouTube about intermittent fasting and decided to start fasting herself, she straight-up starved herself for 21 hours per day and then ate a somewhat healthy meal in the remaining 3 hours. After a few months, even though she did lose a bunch of fat, She realized that her muscle gain was pretty much stopped. It made her worry about her health, so she went to a physician and, after talking to them, realized that the fasting plan she chose was too rough and that it was only acceptable if she did it just for one or two days a week. After changing her routine, she started gaining muscles again.

Avery
Avery
5 months ago

If your heart is still friendly, have nuts before workout sessions. They are super energetic and keep you going.

Liliane
Liliane
Reply to  Avery
5 months ago

Great idea, a handful of any nuts with some raisins can ultimately keep you going for an hour, meeting your needs for necessary minerals and healthy sugar to energize you. But you’d better include pistachio, hazelnuts. Yet, as the article says, your nutrition very much depends on your purpose of doing exercise.

Ted
Ted
4 months ago

Since I have reached fifty, I have tried to stay healthy by eating healthy. Every morning I try to use dairy products. I have also omitted red meat. Instead of red meat, I eat either fish or chicken for lunch; I try to eat salad or fruits at night. Of course, I must mention that I eat based on the health pyramid. The most important thing I eat is bread. Thank god I am healthy.

Jenn
Jenn
2 months ago

Thanks for sharing helpful tips and information with us. I want to add something else based on my experience. It’s really essential to know what foods you should consume before and after the workout, but don’t forget about the quantity! I’ve heard it from literally every one of my coaches to watch out for the calories and nutrients I use each day. Protein and carbs are the most essential nutrients. It would be best to consume different amounts per kilogram of your body weight based on your workout goals.

Emma
Emma
15 days ago

I am very serious when it comes to workout nutrition; I always give suggestions to my friends and post nutritional facts on my Instagram account. So I’ll share my favourite here; make sure to try it at least once. 
Before hitting the gym, I usually eat bananas, a common pre-work-out food. This magical fruit is full of fast-acting carbohydrates that can provide me with a significant rise in my energy level and thereby stimulate my physical performance. Also, potassium in bananas has been proven to be beneficial for both muscles and nerves. In brief, banana is worth-trying for pre-workout foods.