The Best Natural Pre Workout Supplements & Foods
Whether you are an early riser who hits the gym first thing in the morning, or you prefer after-work sweat sessions, knowing the best natural pre workout supplements and foods to eat can make a serious difference in both your performance and energy levels.
Does the Type of Exercise I Do Make a Difference?
Up to a certain point, the type of exercise you do will not change the recommended pre workout supplement and foods that are best beforehand. For professional or elite athletes, dietary guidelines are much more specific.
Low-intensity exercise that does not change your body’s caloric and nutritional needs include leisurely biking, walking, cleaning the house, etc. These move large muscle groups, and your diet should not change to accommodate it.
Instead, think of focusing your diet on whole, nutrient-dense foods as your normally would. High-intensity exercise such as running, biking, swimming, soccer, basketball, interval training and weight-lifting do require slightly more nutritional planning.
If you are doing long distance cardio, your body requires a higher carbohydrate intake. This is why a lot of athletes will “carb-load” the night before an event, as carbs are stored in the muscles and liver and used as energy. However, instead of eating carbs like pasta and bread, choose more nutritious options such as whole grains and starchy vegetables like winter squashes and sweet potatoes, along with a serving of healthy fat and protein.
For the average gym-goer (or any non-extreme workout), there is no carb-loading necessary. However, remember that digesting a large meal takes time, so keep your pre-workout meals and snacks small. Eat a larger meal no less than 2 hours before exercise.
We tend to see natural pre workouts work well for single workouts. Single workouts may consist of weight lifting, 3-5 miles on the treadmill, 20 miles on a stationary bike, and group fitness classes. Eating healthily with a pre workout supplement beforehand may enable you to push harder and/or longer.
The Best Natural Pre Workout Supplements
Along with foods, including a few key pre-workout supplements can supercharge your fitness. Unfortunately, a lot of sports supplements are packed full of artificial ingredients and added sugars, so finding ones that are natural and have whole-foods based ingredients is best. Here are some of our choices for best natural pre workout supplements.
Getting your carbohydrates from vegetable sources is ideal, and beets are rich in natural sugars, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that can safely and naturally boost your exercise performance and energy levels.
Combined with beta alanine (shown to improve performance), yerba mate, vitamin C and other natural sources of energy, Beet Natural uses no artificial ingredients and can be taken 20 minutes pre-workout.
Blood Sugar Balancing Teas
Within about an hour of your workout, try a blood balancing tea for sustained energy heading into exercise. Prince of Peace’s blood sugar herbal tea combines licorice root (great for adrenal support), guava leaf and bitter melon, which all help to balance your blood sugar and avoid any energy dips mid-workout.
Studies show that caffeine can be a safe and healthy way to boost your exercise performance, especially in the morning. If your form of caffeine comes by the way of coffee, be sure to avoid added sugars.
Vitamin B-12 plays a role in energy metabolism by helping convert food into glucose. If you take one vitamin every so often, it won’t do much. Instead, add it to your daily routine for maximum result.
More studies are needed, but some experts claim that taking an antioxidant supplement pre-workout can help prevent oxidative damage during exercise.
Best Foods to Fuel Your Workout
First of all, keep in mind that what you ate yesterday has a big impact on today’s workout, as food is not turned into glycogen (your muscle’s primary fuel supply) immediately. Pre-workout foods are aimed at balancing blood sugar and keeping you sufficiently energized to maximize your workout.
The timing also depends largely on the person, as some people feel great working out immediately after eating, while others feel sick. Typically, a pre-workout snack should be eaten between 15 minutes and 1 hour beforehand.
Nutritious and energy-boosting pre-workout options include
- 1 hard boiled egg with an apple and 1 tablespoon of peanut or almond butter
- A piece of fruit with a small handful of nuts or seeds1 serving of plain
- 1 serving of plain, greek yogurt with fruit
- Chopped carrots with hummus or guacamole
- High-quality protein shake
While carbs have gotten most of the attention in the world of sports nutrition, studies have shown that healthy fats are also very important, especially for proper recovery. Eating a high-fat meal just before exercise isn’t the best idea, but include enough in your regular meals.
When it comes down to it, there is no exact pre-workout food prescription, as everyone’s body reacts differently to varying macronutrient percentages and food timing before exercise. Play around with what makes you feel the most energized for your workout, and it might take some trial and error.
Through healthy food choices and planning around nutrient timing, you can make sure that you get the maximum benefits out of every workout. Taking a natural pre workout supplements is the cherry on top.
Rachel Fiske is a Holistic Nutrition Consultant and graduated from Bauman College of Holistic Nutrition in Berkeley, California. She is also a Certified Personal Trainer through the National Academy of Sports Medicine. Rachel focuses on issues of weight management, GI problems, hormonal imbalances, fatigue and more via a whole foods diet and lifestyle changes.