By Todd Lee M.D.
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Pre Workout Meals
For decades it’s been know that peri workout nutrition or the food you consume around your workout are the most important meals of the day. Many focus on the post workout meal and try to load up on fast carbs and fast protein during the anabolic window (click the link to learn how this works) but I’m going to focus on pre workout meals.
The first thing you have to consider is if you're using a pre workout drink. Most have some carbs in them to get your insulin up for the workout so you don't burn muscle while you lift, but that would only happen if the glycogen supplies in the muscles are really low at the beginning of the workout.
If your brand does have carbs then the pre workout meal can contain carbs and may give you some liver glycogen and circulating blood sugar by the time you start lifting. I would have perhaps fish and a starch 2-4 hours before a lift, then a whey shake 1 hour out, then my pre workout drink 15 minutes out, in my case I would load ToddLeeMD.com Pre Workout or Fenris’ Fury with dextrose or table sugar since my insulin was already up from the carbs in the fish meal there is no reason to try to keep my insulin down mid workout.
Insulins only flaw during a workout is it stops fat burning. Since 99% of people want to burn fat while they work out THEY MUST NOT HAVE CARBS PRE WORKOUT EVER. I designed my pre workout drinks ToddLeeMD.com Pre Workout and Fenris’ Fury to help you burn fat and give you a sick pump during your workout by keeping insulin at zero until after you lift.
Best Pre Workout Meal if You're Cutting
To capitalize on these technologies in ToddLeeMD.com Pre Workout or Fenris’ Fury I will detail a carb free pre workout meal, or at least insulin non provoking meal. You can't burn fat in the presence of insulin, so you can't burn fat in the presence of carbs.
(Not ideal, fruit is short term energy that doesn't stop fat burning but does turn to fat if not burned. So it's better to have fruit pre workout than go into a workout dizzy and weak . Fruit is useless any other time of day however.)
A good pre workout meal would be either an orange or a banana and a whey shake pre workout. The fruit sugar will have a minimal impact on insulin levels and the whey will actually have a profound one. But in the end there shouldn't be enough of an insulin spike to either store fat or to stop complete fat burning if your training either legs, hiit cardio, or a greuling back session. SInce there are little red fibers in arms, chest, and shoulders there is little point to aim for fat burning on those days and a carb load pre workout would help the white fibers swell from the influence of the ToddLeeMD.com Pre Workout or Fenris’ Fury
Summary: Use fruit and whey pre workout if you are doing back, legs, or hiit + another upper body part to get through your workout without causing any muscle loss.
A better option would be to have fish like tuna, tilapia, swai, orange roughy, or wild atlantic Cod fried in coconut oil. The coconut oil is mostly MCT oils: a form of fat that is better than either carbs or other fat. It is immediate energy and it prevents fat storage. It’s like jet fuel. Eat this 3 hours pre workout, unless you're starving sooner than 3 hours, I for instance can eat fish and be hungry again in one hour. If you're hungry you can have your pre workout drink.
Then right before you lift on an empty stomach have your ToddLeeMD.com Pre Workout or Fenris’ Fury. I would add 5-15 g of MCT oil to the drink to ensure you get enough free energy to get your workout done.
Best Pre Workout Meal For Mass
Normally the quality of the workout is based on the glycogen levels when you START the workout. The more glycogen going into a workout the more you build muscle from that workout. The less glycogen, the less you build and the more muscle you burn! You don’t need to be on empty to burn muscle, Your body increases the % of muscle burned as your glycogen tanks drop. This is why reloading glycogen is so important and why Carb Back Loading is the way to go; having all your carbs while the anabolic window is open not because synthesis is faster, but because there is just as much glycogen synthesis and far less fat accumulation. This translates to a an easy and short cut season since you never lost your abs bulking:)
That being said I don't think you can really load your glycogen with a pre workout meal, the glycogen would have needed to be synthesized starting with your last workout. What you can do is load your blood with carbs, fat, sodium, and water with amino acids so you go into the workout with every single thing you need.
If you are using a pre workout drink then you want your stomach to be empty for that drink 15-30 minutes before the workout. so a medium sized meal 3 hours pre workout heavy in carbs and protein but light in fat is ideal. If you're not having a pre workout I would have a heavier meal that's dirtier since then you will be full and happy while you lift.
A good pre workout meal in the bulking season if you're not using a pre workout and not doing carb back loading is either General Tso’s chinese food with fried rice or a medium pizza, I like Hungry Howies. This gives you tons of carbs and protein from multiple sources and an enormous amount of sodium so your vessels open up and swell with water. This will provide the muscles water when they get thirsty from lifting. Thirsty muscles that are given water and aminos and creatine and carbs swell and grow, and the full glycogen from the previous days meals will have the signal in place to actually grow.
If you are using a pre workout but not carb backloading the best plan of action is either eat a huge meal 6 hours before hand like the one above then 3 hours pre workout a fish or chicken and rice meal than an hour before a banana and a whey shake, then the pre workout 15 minutes before.
The best is if you are on carb back loading and on a pre workout. In this case your glycogen supplies should be full from the night before (when you slam all your carbs) and you're just coasting burning fat through the day but not tapping into muscle glycogen since you're putting either coconut oil or straight MCT oil in your food for the appropriate fuel.
What I do is whey and eggs early, then red meat and MCT oil throughout the day until a few hours before lift time, then a fruit or starch up to 50 g low GI carbs (my body can handle this without there being a change in insulin) then I take my pre workout with MCT oil and hit the weights!
Nothing in this article or on this site should be considered medical advice or as an endorsement to violate any law of the country in which you reside. The information given is for fun and entertainment purposes only. All statements are 100% dependent upon proper diet and exercise. Please consult a medical practitioner prior to any diet and exercise program.