Question:

What are the best foods to consume pre-resistance training?

– Steve S.

Answer:

Since resistance exercise is largely an anaerobic activity, you will burn mostly carbohydrates for energy during your training bout. ‘Ready’ carbohydrates will fuel you and prime your muscles’ insulin pump to prepare for protein synthesis with your recovery meal. Choose low fat, low fiber carbohydrates such as pasta, white rice, pretzels, non-grainy crackers, most cereals, bread, skinless sweet potato, cooked carrots, tomatoes, bananas, melons, strawberries, oranges, and unsweetened applesauce.

You’ll want to incorporate easily digestible protein such as egg whites, skinless chicken/turkey breast, deli-sliced lean meat, tuna, tofu, casein, and soy or whey protein concentrate. If you have a sensitive stomach you might consider peptides (partially broken-down proteins) considered more bio-available, but they are not beneficial for most people. A branched-chain amino acid (BCAA) enriched protein powder could benefit, as BCAAs may preserve muscle glycogen stores and reduce the amount of protein breakdown.

Four examples of pre-training mini-meals are:

  1. rice or oat square cereal, non-fat milk, strawberries
  2. noodles & chunky marinara, turkey meatball
  3. ½ steamed sweet potato, chicken tenderloin
  4. banana, graham crackers, hard-cooked egg whites

– Debbie J., MS, RD

This article should not replace any exercise program or restrictions, any dietary supplements or restrictions, or any other medical recommendations from your primary care physician. Before starting any exercise program or diet, make sure it is approved by your doctor.

Some questions have been edited for length and/or clarity.

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