A Complete Guide to Natural Pre-Workout Foods for Women

For women, natural pre-workout can be a great choice. They not only give you an edge in the gym and keep you running for longer, but they also ensure that you don’t get all the crazy side effects like vomiting, jitters, headaches, itching, cramps, etc. of pre-workout supplements.

Do you need a pre-workout diet?

A 2010 study published by WebMD suggested that American women regard fatigue as one of their major concerns. This increases the importance of a pre-workout snack even more for active ladies. No matter if you hit the gym for a couple of hours every day or take advantage of basic workout tools at home, a pre-workout diet has paramount importance for three reasons.

1.       Your muscles get more energy

To exercise, your body needs fuel, and its first and major source is carbohydrates and glycogen. Glycogens are a form of sugar stored in the body that turn into energy faster than other micronutrients. Thus, packing enough glycogens means your body will have ample energy to help you exercise properly. You won’t feel tired, drowsy, or fatigued.

But what if you’re trying to lose fat? Well, you’ll still need the energy to do an extended workout to burn more calories, for which you need pre-workout fuel.

2.       Muscle damage is prevented

If you didn’t eat well before a workout, your body could run out of carbs and glycogens, and this is when it turns to other sources that are necessary for muscle growth and recovery. Stopping these sources from being consumed during your workout minimizes muscle damage.

3.       Muscle growth is augmented

A good pre-workout snack will also give your body some protein in addition to glycogen for energy. This protein is especially handy for women who are trying to gain mass.

What makes a good pre-workout?

These four ingredients make up an ideal pre-workout meal for women.

1. Caffeine

Caffeine is an important ingredient of any pre-workout snack because it gives you an instant boost of energy. More studies are needed to find out whether it helps increase the number of reps, but it has repeatedly shown to have increased workload by reducing tiredness and fatigue. Caffeine also works great if you didn’t get enough sleep the night before your workout.

Taking about 2.2 mg of caffeine per kg of your body weight should do the trick, but it varies from person to person depending on their regular intake. Frequent users will need more to get going; others won’t. The only thing to keep in mind is to avoid taking caffeine later in the evening as its impact can last few hours, which could make falling asleep hard. Natural foods that can be a good source of caffeine are coffee, yogurt, ice cream, candy bars, hot chocolates, protein bars, and non-cola sodas.

2. Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs)

Different types of BCAAs help the body synthesize protein. Leucine is the most important BCAA that has been shown to kick off protein synthesis. You can take about 20 grams of BCAAs throughout the day. When you exercise, BCAAs not only protect you against catabolic environments but also minimize the impact of DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) – a condition that you experience the day after an intense workout. By lessening the impact of DOMS, BCAAs help you get back to your training faster. Natural foods that are rich in BCAAs include milk, whey protein, beef, fish, soy proteins, baked beans, brazil nuts, brown rice, almonds, and chickpeas.

3. Beta-Alanine

This ingredient helps you work out for longer than normal and pump out a couple of extra reps by buffering hydrogen ions. The recommended dose is between 2 and 5 grams per day. It has a side-effect that makes your skin have a tingling sensation, which usually isn’t very serious. This sensation can be avoided by taking beta-alanine in smaller portions through the day before workout. Natural foods that are rich in beta-alanine are poultry (especially chicken breast), meat, and fish.

4. Creatine Monohydrate

Creatine monohydrate fills your muscles with substrate energy that can help you lift more weight. You can take up to 20 grams every day. Although most experts agree that Creatine has the same impact on the body no matter what time you take it, taking it before a heavy workout makes the most sense.  Natural foods that are rich in Creatine monohydrate include beef, red meat, and seafood like salmon, sushi, sashimi, and tuna.

Top Five Natural Pre-Workout Foods for Women:

1. Bananas

A study published in Journal of Proteome Research showed that bananas can improve performance and speed up recovery. Twenty cyclists fasted overnight, then drank only water or drank water and had bananas and pears before going on a high-intensity ride for 46 miles. Those who had fruit were faster, had more energy, and recovered 50% faster than others.

Bananas are rich in potassium, natural sugars, and simple carbs. They also have an ideal mix of natural sugars like glucose, fructose, and sucrose, that are ideal for athletes and are also found in most sports drinks. Potassium stays in the body for a short time, so eat a banana about 30 minutes before exercise. Many experts argue that banana offers more energy boost than caffeine, as it also increases your glycogen stores and raises blood sugar level.

2. Fruity Coffee Crunch

This recipe is inspired by those who tend to skip breakfast and either drink an artificial pre-workout smoothie or grab a mocha Frappuccino from a coffee shop before hitting the gym in the morning. Those women are loading their bodies with sugars, syrups, artificial flavors, and chemicals. This drink replaces all that with a light caffeine burst without the unwanted ingredients.

·       Half pureed apple or preferably 1 banana

·       1 cup brewed decaf coffee

·       1 cup skim milk or unsweetened almond milk

·       2 tablespoon old-fashioned oats

·       1 tablespoon almond butter

·       1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa

·       dash cinnamon

·       dash pure vanilla extract

·       1 scoop of your favorite unflavored and unsweetened organic energy powder (optional)

·       1 cup ice cubes

Mix all the ingredients in a high-speed blender until they turn into a uniform, dark brown mixture. Drink it at least 45 minutes before exercise.

3. Stupid Simple Energy bars

This is a convenient pre-workout snack for busy women as you need only three main ingredients including peanut butter, rice or oats based puffed cereal, and maple syrup. You can add dark chocolate to increase the taste, or replace maple syrup with agave. Ginger, vanilla extract, or cinnamon can also be added for a different flavor. Throw all the ingredients in a food processor, when they are evenly mixed, using plastic or wax paper, press them in rectangles of 10″x10″, and freezer overnight. Remove the bars from the freezer and make smaller pieces of your choice on a cutting board. Wrap each bar in wax or plastic paper and store them in the fridge. These bars can be stored for up to three months.

4. Greek Yogurt and Dried Fruit

People who are on a venture to lose weight usually avoid dried fruit because of its high calories and highs sugar content. However, if consumed in controlled amounts before exercise, it can offer quick energy boost because of simple sugars. Mixing your favorite dried fruit and sprouts and legumes with Greek yogurt can add the necessary protein making it a great pre-workout for women.

5. Fruit smoothies

Virtually any fruit smoothie can make a good pre-workout, especially if you exercise in the evening and are fatigued after a long day of work. Here’s one of the most delicious and nutrient-dense smoothies:

–          2 cups skim milk

–          1 medium avocado peeled and pitted

–          1 cup kale stems

–          1 cup kale leaves

–          1 kiwi fruit peeled

–          1 tablespoon peanut butter

–          1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey or your favorite sweetener (optional)

Blend all the ingredients at high speed until they form a uniform green and white mixture. Drink at least 30-50 minutes before the workout.

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