10 Foods Proven To Fuel Your Muscles

If you think downing your pre-workout beverage is the best way to maximize your workout and stimulate muscle growth, you're only half right. That's because the foods you consume during the previous 24 hours, and especially the meal immediately beforehand, provide your body with both carbs and protein so that you can not only go, go, go during your workout, but also grow, grow, grow afterward. Skimping on either before hitting the gym can lead to subpar performance.

What's more, some pre-workout food choices are far superior to others. My hunch is that you want to know what those foods are, so check out these top 10 foods to maximize your exercise performance and recovery!

Foods To Help You Go, Go, Go

It's no secret that carbs are your muscles' primary energy source. But while it may seem that any carb will get the job done, this couldn't be further from the truth. Choosing the right type of carb and portion size may well be the necessary key to finally hitting a new PR.

1. Rice Cakes

Your day won't always go as planned. Heck, it usually won't go as planned. Sometimes that means having to push your workout back an hour or two, disrupting your meal timing. Should you push your workout back even farther and eat a larger pre-workout meal? Or should you suck it up and strive to finish your workout, despite running on an empty tank? The former may not be feasible, whereas the latter will certainly lead to a half-assed session.

The solution is to opt for a quick-digesting snack instead. This will allow you to hit your workout hard as soon as possible without the accompanying GI distress a larger meal would bring. To ensure he's fully fueled before a big workout, Dymatize athlete Mike Hildebrandt has settled on his go-to pre-workout choice: rice cakes.

"Rice cakes are very easy for the body to digest," says Hildebrandt, an NPC physique competitor. "They provide readily available energy and enable me to give 110 percent. Plus, they taste great!" For even more energy, Mike loves to top his rice cakes with honey, another fast-acting carb that fits the bill.

2. Jasmine Rice

Jasmine rice is an excellent pre-workout fuel source, because it's a fast-digesting option that packs a mighty calorie-per-bite ratio (more than 200 calories per cup cooked). Choosing jasmine rice will allow you to consume some serious carbs in a short time without feeling as if you just left the local Chinese buffet when heading into your workout. That's because it has fewer grams of fiber per serving than traditional brown rice. Less fiber means faster digestion.

This is especially helpful for those seeking to gain weight. It might be tempting to skimp on pre-workout carbs because of the total volume of food necessary, which could make you feel overly full or sluggish. However, doing so might cause you to have a subpar workout and undereating for your goal—both of which are counterproductive for your mass-gain goals.

By sticking with fast-digesting jasmine rice, you'll supply your muscles and brain with the fuel necessary to dominate your workout start to finish. Even more, you'll be able to focus on the weights rather than on your stomach. This is the sole reason Hildebrandt chooses jasmine rice pre-workout. "I can get away with a cup 45-60 minutes before a workout and don't feel any interference with digestion while lifting," he says.

3. Dried Fruit

If you're in need of a quick burst of energy, look no further than a handful of dried fruit. Fruit is an excellent source of sugar, and there's no better time for a quick hit of sugar than right around a workout. That's because it will be efficiently utilized as fuel during training.

Dried fruit offers a highly concentrated form of sugar, meaning you can eat very little volume and still receive an instantaneous fuel boost. That's why it's a staple in Dymatize athlete Alicia Ziegler's day. She enjoys many varieties—appropriately portioned, of course—but especially goji berries and blueberries, because of their antioxidant properties.

4. Sweet Potatoes

This sweet spud shouldn't be banished to special occasions alongside pricey steak dinners. The sweet potato is a complex carb that can provide that extra boost you need, and that energy will last well into your workout. Plus, they're rich in potassium! This electrolyte plays a role in optimizing muscle contraction and hydration.

There are several varieties of sweet potatoes, and you can't go wrong with any of them. Ziegler is a fan of the Japanese purple sweet potato, whereas Hildebrandt prefers the traditional sweet potato or yam, a starchier spud with even more energy per bite. Consider a baked or mashed option as part of your next pre-gym snack!

5. Oats

Some workouts demand more fuel than others. Hello, leg day! When this is the case, a simple snack won't suffice. Instead, you need to seek out a source of long-lasting energy so you can not only crush your squats, but your deads, presses, and lunges that follow. Enter oats.

Oats are a complex carbohydrate rich in fiber. This perfect pairing provides a steady release of energy rather than a quick spike, which will allow you to continue training hard well into your workout. Opt for old-fashioned or steel-cut oats. They're less processed, meaning they retain more complexity and fiber than the quick oats you're probably accustomed to.

Ziegler likes to create a "power bowl" for her pre-workout meal on days when she follows up her demanding resistance training with a HIIT circuit. As you may have guessed, oats are the main component of this bowl, alongside a variety of seeds, berries, and dark chocolate chips. Yum.

Foods To Help You Grow, Grow, Grow

Protein has long been hailed as the critical post-workout nutrient, but recent research suggests that taking protein before your workout is just as, if not more, important. A protein-rich pre-workout meal provides a steady stream of amino acids to your muscles for hours to come.

Chances are, this elevated blood amino-acid concentration will still be present during your lifting. This will help to mitigate muscle damage and spare your hard-earned muscle from significant breakdown.

Now that you know how to fuel your energy, it's important to complete the pre-workout pair in order to grow.

1. Whey Isolate

After all these years, whey protein still remains a top choice for your pre-workout meal. The fast-digesting nature of whey isolate provides a quick boost in blood amino-acid levels—faster than any whole-food source.

The partial digestion of hydrolyzed whey isolates in Dymatize Iso 100 are a favorite of both Hildebrandt and Ziegler because of their rapid absorption.

Original Source : 10 Foods Proven To Fuel Your Muscles

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