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When on an intense workout plan, you will need to properly fuel yourself in order to complete your intended workout without depletion of energy. You also want to be sure to time your food consumption in a way that doesn’t slow you down during your workout, or burn off before your workout has started. The general formula for a successful pre-workout nutrition plan is to consume complex carbs with high fiber and a good source of protein about 2 hours before a workout, and consume simple carbs, low fat, and moderate protein an hour to 30 minutes before a workout. Here are some solid examples of how to achieve this in your diet.

Fruit Smoothie

Fruits contain natural sugars that will give you a boost of quick-releasing energy during your workout. Fruits such as blueberries, raspberries, or bananas are ideal for smoothies. You can combine this with your protein powder of choice, or add some protein in the form of low-fat plain Greek yogurt.This combination of simple carbs and a bit of protein works to avoid muscle catabolism during your workout and is best consumed 30 minutes before a workout.

Chicken, Rice, Vegetables

This powerhouse meal is a classic for a reason. Bake or grill some skinless chicken for your protein source and add some light seasoning for flavor. Pick a green vegetable, such as broccoli, asparagus, or kale as a side to provide fiber and vitamins. For this meal, brown rice is best, since it is a complex carb and will provide longer lasting energy. This is a meal best eaten about 2 hours pre-workout, particularly if your workouts are in the afternoon or evening.

Protein-rich Oatmeal and Berries

For those that prefer to complete their workouts earlier in the day, an intentionally designed and easy to make breakfast can be the key you need to get started. Oatmeal cooks quickly and is rich in protein, fiber, and complex carbs for sustained energy. Berries are a delicious addition and provide a quick release of energy that will allow you to complete a workout shortly after your breakfast. It is important to remember to optimal timing of what you decide to eat before a workout. For instance, if you eat a heavier protein source such as chicken with the brown rice immediately before your workout, this will actually slow you down since your body digests these foods more slowly. Conversely, if you eat simple carbs, such as fruits, and wait too long for your workout, your energy will be spent before you make it to the gym. Most importantly, don’t go to the gym and try to get an intense workout in when you are hungry, you will end up doing more harm than good.