Let’s get one thing straight — if we’re going to wake up early so we can hit the gym before work, you better believe we want to make the most of our time there. Otherwise, why even bother getting out of bed? But instead of focusing on what we do at the gym, we’re looking at how what we eat before we work out can impact our exercising. We interviewed several doctors and nutritionists, and it turns out there are several foods that can actually help you work harder and burn more fat when you’re at the gym. If you’re looking to give your metabolism that little extra push before getting sweaty, try one of these foods.
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Dr. Shaikh Sadaf, an endocrinologist at London University, told SheKnows that pineapple is one of the best fat-burning foods you can eat before you work out. It’s high in carbohydrates, but also high in fiber, meaning it will fuel you consistently through your workout without any dramatic spikes in blood sugar. Like most fruit, it’s also full of water to keep you hydrated while you exercise.
2. Lemon juice
Several of the doctors and nutritionists we spoke to said that lemon juice is one of the best fat-burning pre-workout foods around. Medical writer Usama Azam told us that’s because lemon helps “increase the metabolism of the body and burn extra calories,” while you’re working out. He recommends drinking a glass of water mixed with the juice of half a lemon about 15 minutes before you start exercising for the greatest impact.
Oatmeal really is one of the healthiest breakfasts around, and more than one doc we spoke with said it’s a fat-burning wonder. That’s because this high-fiber complex carb gives you the energy you need during your workout to push yourself a little harder, so you get the most out of your gym session. Which type of oats is best? According to Amine Ould-Laib, a nutritionist for Spoon Guru, whole-grain oats, like steel-cut oats, are best. “By using whole-grain oats as opposed to instant oats, we can avoid the post-meal spike and crash in blood sugar,” Ould-Laib tells SheKnows.
Just about every expert we spoke to agreed that bananas are an ideal pre-workout food. That’s because they contain lots of carbohydrates and fiber. “Before you go to work out you have to think of foods which are high in carbohydrates,” explained Usama Azam, MD. They’ll “not only give you a boost in energy to maximize your workout but also help in burning the fat.”
5. Fruit and nuts
Sometimes, you get the best effect by combining foods with different nutrients together. “Pair a high fiber fruit like an apple with a plant-based food that provides a combination of protein and fat (such as a handful of almonds) which will provide a balanced mix of complex carbs, healthy fats and protein,” Rachel Fine, a Registered Dietitian and owner of To The Pointe Nutrition told SheKnows. “The high fiber complex carbs will supply immediate but sustained fuel for the workout while allowing for increased fat burn on longer distances and longer workout durations.”
Snack on one of these items before your next workout, and you might see a big difference.