Recently we've received some questions about workout performance, specifically, fueling your body for the best performance during a T&J high intensity class! We asked our Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist, Kelly, to give us the run-down on the best way to fuel our bodies for a workout and below is what she had to say!
Q: Should I eat before I work-out? If so, what will give me energy without upsetting my stomach during T&J high intensity classes? Should I drink a pre-workout supplement? Which is better for my workout: Carbs or Caffeine?
Kelly: The quick answers: Yes, you should do at least one of the two. Eat some fruit, avoid fat before workouts. Both carbs and caffeine can give you energy, power and endurance. Use them wisely! Read more below:
The goal of a pre-workout supplement or pre-workout snack is to give you energy to power through your workout and avoid that feeling of fatigue and hitting a wall during exercise. Carbohydrates are fuel for your muscles, so eating a small, high-carb snack before you exercise is one way to make sure your body’s gas tank stays full during your workout. Fruit is a great option for a pre-workout snack, containing easy-to-digest and rapidly absorbed carbohydrates. Try eating a clementine, small apple, or half a banana 30-60 minutes before you exercise. Avoid eating anything too heavy like meat, dairy, or foods high in fat as these won’t digest as quickly and can lead to stomach cramping and GI upset while you exercise.
Pre-workout supplements on the other hand give you an energy boost primarily from caffeine (although most also contain the added benefits from B-vitamins and amino acids). Consuming caffeine before your workout can provide energy and endurance, particularly if you need a little extra boost to get you to the gym in the early morning hours or to help get you out of those end-of-the-workday energy slumps. If you’re sensitive to caffeine, pre-workout supplements can lead you to feel jittery and weak and have the opposite effect if you’re not used to them. Most pre-workout powders have 100-200mg caffeine per serving. To compare: an average 12oz cup of coffee has ~135mg caffeine. Pre-workout supplements can be very effective and helpful when used appropriately. Always read the label so you know what you are consuming, and always, always check with your physician if you have any medical diagnoses or are taking any medications that would require you to avoid any kind of supplements.
As far as answering which one is better before you exercise, carbs or caffeine, both can be equally beneficial to your workout regimen. Everyone is different, so to figure out what works for you, consider trying both options and see which one makes you feel better before, during, and after your workout!