If you’re gearing up for a big workout ahead, one thing you’ll want to be sure you’re not falling short on is energy.
Carbohydrates are the body’s primary fuel source during exercise so if you aren’t getting a good dose in, you can expect your workout performance to suffer. This said, simply eating carbohydrates isn’t enough. You want to eat the right types of carbs to deliver that optimal performance.
The wrong types of carbohydrates may still provide you with energy, however more often than not, this energy will come on in a high burst and then leave you crashing, feeling worse than you did before.
The last thing you want to be doing is hitting an all-time low part-way through your workout session, which may very well cause you to leave the gym early.
Let’s take a closer peek into five of the best energizing sources of carbohydrates that you need to know and start using more regularly if you hope to achieve ultimate workout success.
The good news is that even for those who are watching their body, all of these, if eaten before exercise, will make for a great addition to your diet and support that goal as well.
1. Sweet Potatoes
The first great carbohydrate source to get in before your workout session is the sweet potato. Sweet potatoes do contain some natural sugars, which is great for providing the body with an immediate source of energy.
That said, these natural sugars do not spike blood glucose levels like sugar found in soda or candy would. In fact, sweet potatoes can help to stabilize blood glucose levels and improve blood sugar regulation. This is thanks to the high content of fiber this type of potato provides.
This means that you can rest assured you won’t be crashing mid-way through your session.
What’s more is that in addition to the few grams of sugar found in sweet potatoes, you’ll also take in a high dose of complex carbohydrates, which will go that extra mile to keep you energised until you quit.
Sweet potatoes are also an excellent source of antioxidants, which can help to combat any free radical damage that occurs during intense activity. Remember that exercise is a very stressful event being placed on your body and you need the proper nutrients to overcome that stress with ease. Sweet potatoes provide this.
They’re also a good source of many B vitamins including vitamin B6, vitamin B3, vitamin B1, and vitamin B2. All of these B vitamins are needed for proper energy generation purposes.
Finally, sweet potatoes are also going to provide a healthy dose of dietary fiber, which will help lower cholesterol levels and simply optimize health.
This said, it’s not so much dietary fiber that you’ll be weighed down and struggle with indigestion during the exercise session.
Sweet potatoes are highly versatile and can be baked, microwaved, roasted, or grilled – however you prefer them.
The next great carbohydrate source that you’ll want to take in prior to your workout session is the banana. Bananas are very well known to be one of the best bets for pre-workout fuel thanks to the fact they’re very high in potassium content.
Potassium is a key mineral that acts as an electrolyte in the body and along with sodium, will help regulate your blood pressure levels. Potassium is also involved in intense muscular contractions, which is another reason why having it before exercise is a very good thing.
Just like with sweet potatoes, bananas also contain a nice balance of simple sugars as well as complex carbohydrates (starch), ensuring that you get some immediate energy as well as some that will last over a longer period of time.
If it’s less than 30 minutes until you plan to exercise and you need some fast fuel, the banana will stand in perfectly here.
Bananas are also easily portable and can be taken with you on the go, so are ideal for those leading a busy schedule and who may not have time to prepare their full-blown pre-workout meal.
Paired with a protein smoothie, it’s a great go-to option.