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10 Best Pre-Workout Raw Foods

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Despite a longstanding and popular belief to the contrary, one should ALWAYS eat before a workout. I cannot stress the importance of a pre-workout snack enough. The only concerns one should have are what, when and how much? I will answer all three of these questions, by the end of this article, starting with what. Below, I've listed the 10 most popular, easy to find and delicious foods that fit the agenda.

10 Best Pre-Workout Foods

1. Bananas 

2. Kale 

3. Dates 

4. Mangoes 

5. Pineapples 

6. Figs 

7. Kiwi 

8. Peaches 

9. Nectarines 

10. Prunes

These ten foods are great for pre-workout snacks because they are rich in potassium and carbohydrates. Bananas, in particular, are quite rich in both nutrients. Everyone knows that carbohydrates are the body's number one preferred source for fuel, so, obviously, eating whole foods rich in this nutrient is a must for those who plan to engage in high energy activities. Potassium, on the other hand, gets far less press in the realm of physical fitness, despite its necessity to that endeavor.

Potassium is not only essential to physical performance and endurance, we could not survive without it. Potassium is truly a matter of life and death. It is one of the body's most important electrolytes; our cells use electrolytes to carry nerve impulses throughout the body. Without these nerve impulses our cells could not communicate with each other, which means that we would not be able to see, smell, taste, hear or touch, and our hearts would cease to beat. In addition, electrolytes transport nutrients to our cells. This means that the carbohydrates that fuel our muscles during a workout, and all other nutrients, cannot be stored and utilized by our cells without potassium's assistance. Potassium is particularly important to the regulation of the nervous system and muscles. For example, the frequency and degree to which one's muscles can contract is heavily dependent on having the correct amount of potassium in the body. This is why getting enough potassium in one's diet is essential for everyone, not just those who engage in physical exercise. In addition, potassium helps to prevent muscle cramps – the bane of the fitness fanatic's existence. Most of our body's potassium supply (almost 70%) is stored in our bodily fluids, which is why one loses potassium through sweat, when performing intense exercises; consuming potassium-rich foods like kale, apricots, prunes, dates, figs, kiwi fruit, peaches, nectarines, and even Zante currants/Corinthian raisins and white mushrooms, before a workout, helps to offset that loss.

What may be even more important than eating a pre-workout snack that is rich in potassium and carbohydrates is avoiding foods that are rich in protein and fat. The reason why is explained in The Role of Carbohydrates in Exercise and Physical Performance, “An early study exploring the link between diet and exercise capacity found that after a period on a high carbohydrate diet, endurance capacity on a cycle ergometer, doubled in comparison with the exercise times achieved after consuming a normal mixed diet. In contrast, a fat and protein diet reduced exercise capacity to almost half that achieved after normal mixed diets. This clearly showed the benefits of eating a high-carbohydrate diet before prolonged exercise and was the first to establish importance of the carbohydrate content in the diets of athletes preparing for competition.”

When to Eat and How Much

Eating too much, before a workout, can cause indigestion, nausea and vomiting. Obviously, no one wants that. Think snack or light meal. Since we are discussing a simple snack, designed to fuel the muscles and boost energy levels during the workout, eating 25 to 35 minutes beforehand should be fine. If one eats too far ahead the carbohydrates won't be as fueling to the muscles, too close to workout time and one risks having undigested food sitting in their stomach. The digestion, or indigestion, issue is why it's important to keep the snack small, think handful. One handful of whichever whole foods one has chosen should be enough, without being too much.

Other Considerations

There are many whole foods that I love, which also contain plenty of carbohydrates and potassium, which I did not add to my list, because they do not make good pre-workout snacks. Apples, for example. I love apples! However, in addition to being high in carbohydrates, they are also high in fiber – both soluble and insoluble, and insoluble fiber takes a long time to digest. As I explained earlier, one needs a pre-workout snack that digests relatively quickly.

Other foods that I am very fond of but did not list are avocados, nuts and seeds; they are all good sources of potassium, but they are also good sources of fat. Fat-rich foods do not make good pre-workout snacks, because fat takes much longer to digest than carbohydrates, and (at the risk of being repetitive) one should stick with foods that digest quickly. Having food in one's stomach during a workout, particularly a strenuous workout, can lead to indigestion, nausea and vomiting, but this scenario is even more likely to occur if one has eaten a fat-rich food.

There is nothing like the endorphin rush that follows an intense workout; those endorphins are the reason I can't imagine my life without exercise. Keeping in mind that endorphin amounts increase with workout intensity, one can increase their daily dose of this endogenous opioid by increasing their energy output and endurance during a workout. The easiest way to achieve that goal is to avoid fat and protein rich foods prior to a workout and consume modest amounts of carbohydrate and potassium rich foods, 25 to 35 minutes before working out. Now, knowing the what, when and how much, it seems relatively easy to get the most from a pre-workout snack and the workout that follows.


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