I've done a lot of stupid things in my life. Most of them have nothing to do with fitness and nutrition. But the mistakes of my diet run especially deep.
I've done everything from waking up twice in the middle of the night to drinking protein mosquitoes (I have to eat every 3 hours, right?) To frying 20-30g of BCAAs all day to "stay anabolic" (this still feels like "Pet Rock").
When it comes to carb formulation, I've experimented with the extremes: I had woken up 2 hours before my workout and ate about 100-150g of carbohydrates. (Think: Two bowls of oats + fruit + 2 slices of bread to make sure my glycogen stores were "fully loaded" to make muscle.) And sometimes I avoid carbohydrates completely, because fasting burns more fat? (No!)
The truth is always more about sustainable behaviors than trying to "hack" your body. For example, the heart is unable not they burn more fat, but if you feel better then go for it. And carbohydrates can help build more muscle, but you don't need to eat yourself stupid.
Still, the question remains for most:
Do You Need to Eat Carbohydrates Before a Workout?
Scientifically, according to research a little bit of carb-loading can be a good thing for your workout.
The study, published in the Journal of Applied Physiology, compared endurance performance when consuming different amounts – and types – of carbohydrates.
The high carbohydrate group consumed 1.5g / kg body weight before completing 90 minutes of vigorous exercise (think: long term). This group saw better performance and was able to maintain their intensity for a longer time, whereas the lower carbohydrate group had better fat oxidation but was faster at fatigue.
Looking at the results, it was a little dark to determine if type of carbohydrates (low / high glycemic index) made any difference.
When to Load Carb
If you are going to do long-term activity (especially endurance training, such as running, cycling, etc.) and performance is your goal (to run faster, faster and with less fatigue), than pre-workout carbohydrates are a better approach than avoiding carbohydrates or switching to a lower-carb meal.
In general, the greater the activity, the greater the "need" for carbohydrates to enhance your workout.
But remember: if "forcing" carbohydrate intake before a workout means you are not working out, or making you feel sick to your stomach, then no Do it. Coal loading is not worth it if the meal disturbs your workout.
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