Sebastian Balcombe is the founder and CEO of Athletic Edge, a nutrient-support and supplementation brand. Under Sebastian’s leadership, Athletic Edge has consistently lived up to its brand promise of “substance over hype” since its beginning in 2005
Some days, you hit your workout feeling energized and powerful. You finish knowing you gave it your all, leaving nothing on the table.
Other days, you struggle immensely. You work as hard as you can, but you’re exhausted. You try to shake the fatigue and grogginess, but it feels like you’re just going through the motions and there’s nothing you can do to change how your body is responding. You desperately need some kind of edge to fight this struggle.
Why does this happen? Maybe you’ve researched some of the reasons why, but you still haven’t figured out how to combat that fatigue—until now.
No matter what type of training you’re passionate about, there are key nutritional strategies and supplements available to give your body its best chance to work out at the highest level possible. This two-part road map, broken down into Stage 1 and Stage 2, is your plan for exactly what to do and how to do it.
Stage 1 is an optimally composed pre-workout solid meal, eaten 2-3 hours before you train. Stage 2 follows up with a liquid source of nutrients and performance-enhancing ingredients, consumed 60 minutes or less before exercise. Take these two steps and you’ll go into your workout with the energy, motivation and intensity you need.
The proper pre-workout nutrition puts your body in an optimal state to build and protect muscle, ensures you are optimally hydrated and your blood sugar remains steady, keeps cortisol and insulin in proper balance to reduce the storage of fat, assists in mental recovery, and maintains your immune system.
Do you want to gain an edge in your fitness and nutrition knowledge so you can consistently perform at your best? Here’s your plan!
Stage 1: 2-3 Hours Prior To Training
Eat your pre-workout meal 2-3 hours before you train, along with drinking 14-22 ounces of water. This allows enough time for your body to digest and absorb the nutrients, and the glucose and insulin in your blood to go back to baseline before your workout. You don’t want to go into your workout with elevated insulin, as insulin directly reduces your body’s ability to burn fat.
How much protein and how many carbohydrates you should take in will vary based on how long you train, what type of training you do, your fitness level, and your current diet.
Your pre-workout meal should be light and comprised of protein and carbohydrates. How much protein and how many carbohydrates you should take in will vary based on how long you train, what type of training you do, your fitness level, and your current diet, so keep in mind that these numbers are not set in stone and you should experiment to find what works best for you.
You also need to be properly hydrated, which is the reason for the recommendation of 14-22 ounces of water with your meal. If your body is not in optimal fluid balance prior to exercise, expect to experience a big drop in performance and loss of energy, as repeatedly proven in sports-nutrition research. Staying optimally hydrated is a simple step, but it’s an essential piece of the performance puzzle that’s all too often overlooked.
To start building your Stage 1 meal, follow this example to calculate your protein and carbohydrate needs:
- Take your weight in pounds and divide it by 2.2 to get your weight in kilograms.
- To calculate your protein requirements, multiply your weight in kilograms by .15 grams for your low end of the range and by .25 grams for your high end of the range.
- To calculate your carbohydrate requirements, multiply your weight in kilograms by .25 grams for the low end of the range and by 1 gram for the high end of your range.
For example, a 180-pound individual weighs 81 kilograms. They would take in 12-20 grams of protein and 20-80 grams of carbs during their pre-workout meal.
Avoid fat as much as possible in this pre-workout meal. Research suggests fat may bring about a calming effect with less cognitive arousal in subjects 2-3 hours after ingestion—another reason why the composition of your pre-workout meal is so crucial.
Choose lean, low-fat sources of protein that are high in tyrosine and other amino acids that promote stimulant neurotransmitters under physically stressful conditions. These neurotransmitters, such as adrenaline and dopamine, help you feel energized, alert, and motivated to get your workout started.