No matter what sport you participate in from gym goers to endurance junkie’s preparation for a session require not just a wake up and go but an actual strategy for how you are going to fuel yourself before during and after your session.
I often get asked the question of what and it ultimately depends on a few factors which need to be seriously taken into consideration.
What time are you training?
How long are you training for?
What intensity are you training at?
When are you training again?
Without clearly understanding the objectives of your workout how can you possible achieve the desired outcome. Secondly, what is your main goal?
More lean muscle mass and a better physique?
Better fitness and endurance?
More muscle mass?
Less body fat?
Did you know that just training without the proper nutrition around it is just a complete waste of time? You really need to take this into consideration if you want to achieve your goals especially from a health point of view.
I have often used the analogy of comparing a human body to a vehicle. So, you want the body of a Ferrari which is awesome. But instead of having high performance fuel you use a very low-grade petrol and oil. You don’t take care of the engine yet you expect the “Ferrari” to perform. That is ridiculous. You think you can treat your engine like a VW beetle and perform like a Ferrari. Sorry friend it isn’t going to happen. If you look at it from a health perspective imagine placing really bad fuel into the engine and then trying to get it to accelerate to an extremely high speed, with barely any water in the engine. Yes, that’s you, the athlete or lifter who thinks they can eat KFC in moderation and then push out huge weights or high wattage. Eventually the pipe will burst, the engine will blow something will have to give and it always does. Maybe not immediately but certainly over time. If you have a high-performance vehicle you will go out of your way to make sure that the best fuel, oil and tires are used. Same with your own body, if you treat it with high performance fuel and give it the best, you can only expect it to perform at its best.
Do you know what the advantage of being human is?
We might not look like a high performing vehicle or have that lean muscular or fast physique, but one thing we have which a vehicle doesn’t is we can change our shape. We can completely reshape ourselves inside and out and that all boils down to the fuel we place in our engines. It should be the best. I am not talking about illegal substances and quick fixes which impact your health. I am speaking about proper nutrition which will keep you on the journey from a health and performance perspective to reach your goal.
I often hear people saying everything in moderation. What rubbish. If I ate everything I enjoyed in moderation it would be disastrous. Imagine I drank wine, coke and beer in moderation, ate pizza in moderation and the followed that up with some chocolate in moderation. My eating week would be hell. Moderation is an absolute excuse for the lazy to sacrifice their health and goals for emotional attempts at making their serotonin levels rise to fill their minds with awesomeness. In the end it’s a losing battle. You are what you eat and it couldn’t be more accurate than that.
Now with all this in mind I have completely drifted away from the discussion of actual fueling and now that we know how important nutrition is let’s go back to that awesome topic of where to start.
Today we are going to focus on the pre-workout nutrition. It’s going to be critical when trying to achieve a certain training goal.
I asked many questions above? Let’s review them and decide how to tackle our pre-training nutrition.
Time of the training session:
This is crucial as if you are waking up at the crack of dawn and going straight out on an exercise session do you really feel like eating so early on. Is it absolutely necessary to consume something at 4am. Well the truth is it depends on the next question.
How long and how intense is your workout going to be.
Only 60-90minutes long or maybe up to 2hrs or longer. This will certainly make a difference.
Now look at the objective. Weight gain weight loss, body fat burn, fat efficiency for endurance. These all play a part of the puzzle.
Considering the above scenarios, I would suggest any workout lasting up to 90min does not need much fuel at all. The human body has natural energy stores which can keep you going at a high intensity for that period and you can pretty much do a fasted training session.
Check out my video explaining the Fuel Tanks of the Human Body https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h3egjhBpfo0&t=2s this will explain clearly how your own natural energy stores work.
Training fasted will allow you to burn off body fat quite early on depending on the session you are doing and simultaneously allow you to become a fat efficient athlete. Many people battle mentally with this. They don’t feel so great and this is only because of habit and what I call the brain train. You have trained your body in a certain way, and its adapted to that. Attempting this is confusing and a shock to the system and so it takes shorter sessions over time building up to longer sessions to become better at it.
If you ever do a fasted training session you must know how to recover properly from it. Without proper recovery you will battle to make the gains you need and if there was a second session later that day you will be fatigued to turn out another quality workout.
I often get asked about muscle catabolism as opposed to anabolism with fasted training. My answer to that is for a session this short you certainly won’t catabolize your own muscle you have plenty of other fuel to work with. If you are a body builder and require a minimum daily protein intake which is much higher than an endurance athlete then a protein is most likely required at wake up and again later after for recovery however that is a different topic completely.
So, I threw a spanner in the works now telling you to train fasted. I am not saying it’s a must. As I do advise athletes on pre-workout nutrition prep to increase fat burn, naturally of course, make the brain happier and provide far better mental focus. There are many meal ideas and natural supplements which can be used to enhance the workout and allow you to perform very well while being rewarded with the same benefits.
I bet your next question is what are these and what I will do is give you a little insight into how I fuel my sessions to explain it a little further.
Not many people know but I did come from a weight lifting background into endurance sport, I once weight 112kg now only 66kg. So, I understand both worlds quite intimately, and how the body suffers in both. Each is unique. I train for endurance but I also do strength and both have their challenges.
At wake up my primary objective is to ensure I am alert and focused. Early morning sessions often sacrifice the final sleeping hours of major hormonal release and final deep sleep cycles. I won’t get into discussing the science of sleep now, however I can say this. Waking up in a deep sleep cycle can leave you feeling fatigued and tired. It’s not a pleasant feeling.
What are my goals as an endurance athlete?
Maintain a lean healthy muscle mass
Keep my immune system strong
Make sure I am a fat burning machine (fat efficiency is an endurance athlete’s best friend)
Ensure my energy levels are consistent
Wow what a list you might say
They are in no order of preference. Each of these are important to overall health strength and speed.
So, I will tell you how I do it.
It’s quite Simple. Firstly, for any athlete, the mental aspect plays a critical role. Strength of mind can get us through almost anything. However, this requires mental focus. This is where my favorite friend caffeine comes into play. This doesn’t mean any caffeine it means measurable caffeine. I use TrueStart performance coffee for this. It carries an accurate 95mg of caffeine per a serving and it’s a natural caffeine releasing for close to 6hrs which completely covers my workout. The best thing is its completely natural and as anyone knows I hate synthetic products.
I know per a kilogram of bodyweight how much caffeine I need before a workout and how long it will last me in order to provide me the right amount of focus to cover my session. TrueStart Coffee does the trick. What else does caffeine do? I free up more free fatty-acids which allow me more access to free energy floating around my body in simple terms more fat for fuel. I also like to load myself with green tea in the mornings. Research has shown that green tea can assist in decreasing fat storage and assisting with fat burn BUT to achieve this quite a fair amount needs to be consumed. I can drink anywhere from 6-20 cups a day depending on my mood. One cup is not going to do the trick but I love waking up to it. I like the taste and use it as a form of hydration.
Generally a session of up to 90-120min for me will be covered by the above due to my fat efficiency. However on slightly longer sessions. I make a little energy bomb and generally this is concoction of pure MCT oil, caffeine, nut butter and vanilla powder. Oh its s a BOMB and a tablespoon kickstarts my engine rapidly, of course I could add some BCAA’s and Beta Alinine to add more fuel to the fire, BUT that’s again for another discussion. I keep it simple depending on my goal. If I don’t feel like eating then I just add pure vanilla flavoured MCT oil or MCT oil with Vanilla powder to my TrueStart Coffee and that’s enough fire to get me going from the mug.
Another product I use when I am on the go is the 32Gi G-Shot, 60mg of caffeine per a serving in a simple snap sachet and easy to stack in my wallet, makes it a very convenient carry and use.
This type of pre-workout ensures I can churn out a quality session with-out compromising what I need. It is so effective you won’t believe the results after a few weeks. I often get asked what about carbs before your workout? Why?
I have natural carbohydrates stores in my body 2000 calories worth and they will easily see me for up to 2hrs of a high intensity exercise (Check out my video link I mentioned earlier) I use what I have no need to douse my flames. Raising my blood glucose levels before a session will just mitigate my fat burning ability so if my goal is to burn more fat why would I start my session off on the wrong foot? It doesn’t make sense. If workouts are much longer then that’s a completely different story and we will get to that in another blog. As for strength training the above would work just as well. So, weight lifters go crazy.
This is just a small share into my morning routine before a session, I will cover more topics of longer endurance sessions, fueling during and post exercise recovery. But for now, keep training hard, sleep well and eat even harder 😉
The Fitness Freak
P.S. I FORGOT
If you are keen on TrueStart Coffee there is a great deal at the moment Just Click Here
32Gi’s GShot is available online at the 32Gi Store Just Click Here
As far as MCT oil go there are a few, but Battle Brew and Natures Choice are two I have used which are awesome Dis-Chem stock Natures Choice and Chrome Battle Brew. Natures choice has a Vanilla flavour which is pretty decent.
As far as my nut butter bomb goes well I will certainly be giving you a recipe in the near future as I make it all myself 😉