It may sound crazy, but dates are actually the perfect pre-workout fuel. Grabbing a few dates before your training can take your workouts from “that was great” to “I completely dominated that sh*t”. That’s because our bodies need carbohydrates as fuel in significant amounts to be able to perform. Dates are high in carbs, contain potassium, and are a low volume to top off right before training.
You specifically want Medjool dates for their nutrient composition. These are large, sweet and sometimes contain a pit (so make sure to remove them before). They are dried, but not dehydrated, making them soft, sticky and sweet. They are often used to sweeten baked goods, protein bars, and smoothies.
Here are 3 reason why you should top off your next training session with Medjool dates.
- They are a carbohydrate powerhouse.
Your muscles and brain need and use carbs. Each Medjool date contains 15 g carbs and is perfectly portioned depending on how much carb you need. Dates quick energy for training and to recover post training. Having carbs with your post workout protein will aid in a faster recovery to perform harder again the next day.
Before training, having 1 to 4 dates (depending on your carbohydrate needs) 30 minutes before your session will supply working muscles with carbohydrates during training. Whether it is a strength workout, HIIT training, powerlifting or endurance, you needs carbs to compete. More strenuous prolonged training, longer than one hour, may require additional carbs during your workout. Unsure of you needs? Learning your needs from a Sports Dietitian will help you perform and feel your best.
2. They are a low volume and compact food.
Do you usually skip a pre-training snack or meal because your stomach feels heavy during training? Then dates can be your solutions. Just two of these small dried fruits are smaller than the palm of your hand with loads of whole food performance nutrition. They are also easily portable and can pop a few into a reusable container or snack bag to take with you on the go. Now you can head into your workout fully fueled without the worry you’re going to feel stuffed.
3. They contain potassium, an essential electrolyte.
Potassium is one electrolyte lost in sweat during training, in addition to the most abundantly lost electrolyte sodium. Both sodium and potassium important to replace. When potassium levels are low, muscles can fatigue and cramp, a total buzzkill to your training (and super uncomfortable). One Medjool date contains 167 mg of potassium, take two and that doubles to 334 mg potassium. BTW: Medjool dates have more potassium than some of the leading sports drinks!
Skeptical of noshing on a plain date? You can top it with a bit of almond butter or try these chocolate protein date ball bites for a pre-training treat. There are a variety of bars, like Rx Bar, that are made from dates and contain some protein and fat to keep you satiated during training.
While everyones specific needs are different, we all needs carbs to fuel your workouts. While some recreational athletes may need just 15-30 grams of carbs, some elite level athletes may need upwards of 60-90 g of carbs to fuel their training. It’s best to get a professionally developed game plan to ensure you are fueled to optimize your training, recovery and health.