A few weeks ago I decided it would be a great idea to get
outside for one final bike ride before the winter season turned my scenic
rendezvous into hammer fests on the stationary trainer. Everything was going smoothly
until mile 25. My legs were doing all right, but my brain on the other hand,
was beginning to shut down. It was low on glucose, its one and only fuel source.
I immediately knew that my lack in preparation to fuel my body had gotten the
best of me and consequently, I was bonking.
Most athletes experience something similar at some point
during their athletic careers, whether it’s the blood glucose bonk (the
experience I described) or the muscle-glycogen bonk (when your brain works fine
but your legs give out). Regardless of the physiological origin, it’s a
completely miserable experience. However, with the right pre workout snack, you
can feel nutritionally ready to go and better your chances of avoiding bonking
During exercise the muscles in our body utilize
carbohydrates, in the form of glucose (and glycogen, the main storage form of
glucose) as a primary fuel source. Therefore, when choosing a pre-workout
snack, generally it is wise to go with foods rich in carbohydrates, moderate in
protein and low in fat content. Obviously, variables such as sport, intensity, exercise
duration, gender and age play a role when deciding on the best ratio of carbs,
to protein, to fat. However, getting something healthy in your system before a
workout is definitely better than having nothing at all.
With regard to timing, based on my experience 30-90 minutes
prior to a workout is the best window to fuel up. Too early and you bonk. Too
late and you’re feeling sick.
Everyone’s needs are going to be different, so play around with
timing and those macronutrient ratios. However if you don’t know where to
start, here are a few of my favorite pre workout snacks:
Plain oatmeal w/ berries
Whole-wheat toast with hummus and salsa
Toast with hard-boiled eggs
Smoothie: Mixed berries, almond milk, flax, and a little protein
Whole grain crackers with honey
Banana and Peanut Butter
Apple & almond butter
Chews – Try the Gatorade Chews we have in the center
Long story short, whether you’re a long distance runner or a
power athlete, a nutritious snack can make all the difference in the
world. So, the next time you’re planning
to get after it, take the time to give your body the fuel it needs to perform
at its best.