Suppose you’re training to increase your strength and muscle mass with the ultimate goal of improving your Brazilian jiu-jitsu game. In that case, you’re using your body in different ways than when you’re engaging in cardio training such as spending time on the air bike, rowing machine, and so on.
Both resistance training and cardio training are beneficial for reaching your peak grappling conditioning state, so you should include both types of training to maximize the results on the mat with added strength, power, and speed to complement your technical game.
To break it down, cardio training emphasizes blasting calories and torching unwanted fat while you’re working out. While strength training tends to build muscular strength and mass and raise your resting metabolism to increase calorie burn post-workout, it’s generally easier to stay fit as you turn your body into a calorie-burning machine. Always stack the deck in your favor with the right training regimen and set yourself up for success at every point.
The intensity difference of your workout may also affect your pre-and post-workout snacking habits and what type of foods you consume. However, when it comes to pre-workout or pre-roll fuel, there is one food that several trainers and dietitians agree on, and it may shock you.
Eat Before Every Workout
You might be thinking, Why do I need extra calories for strength training if there’s less cardio and I’m not going to get out of breath or even sweat that fast?
The fact of the matter is that having the proper food before a strength-training session or an intensive slower roll will benefit your body during the workout and afterward.
You are still taxing your muscles whether rolling, strength-training or doing cardio; it’s just in different ways. Eating something before you train will slow the depletion of your glycogen stores. When you’re strength-training or rolling with a super-strong guy who requires you to use more strength than usual, your muscles use their glycogen stores for fuel. When you’re finished training, you’ll find that these same muscles are running on empty in both glycogen and protein and thus must be replenished to repair and strengthen those now-weakened muscles so they are ready to roll the next day.
“This means that the muscles that are mostly depleted of glycogen and protein are being broken down, making it important to be properly fueled before completing a workout,” says Trista Best, MPH, RD, LD, a leading dietitian for more than 10 years.
When looking for the optimal pre-training snack, it’s best to go with something that’s high in carbs. “Consuming carbohydrates also helps create lipids in the body, which provide energy for repletion after exercise rather than using food sources like body fats,” says Jamie Hickey, certified trainer and registered dietitian.
The Best Pre-Roll Foods
“I recommend oatmeal, bran cereal, wheat toast, or any kind of starch about 30 to 60 minutes before strength training,” Hickey says.
While you can opt for whole wheat or whole-grain snacks (as well as other starchy grains such as quinoa or brown rice with moderate fiber), oats seem to be the pick of many experts. And I agree.
Consuming these energized snacks 30 to 60 minutes before your session is a perfect time frame for the amino acids found in protein to reach your muscles and provide needed fuel — and for your carbohydrate-infused snack to be sufficiently digested so you can avoid any stomach challenges mid-workout.
If you’re going for the pre-session 30-minute option, choose a fast-acting carb like an oat bar or a slice of whole-grain toast with nut butter on top. And if you timed your day perfectly and have a full hour, you can likely have something slightly heavier, such as a smoothie with oats blended in, a bowl of Greek yogurt with oats as a topper, or even a bowl of oatmeal with some milk.
The name of the game here is timing and being creative with your oat snack choice so you stick with it. We all want to perform optimally on the mat and in the training room. Give this simple pre-workout routine a try, and you’ll see your performance increase day by day.
By Howard Graham