Eating Before Your Workout – What is Best to Eat?
You’ve laced up your trainers and zipped up your gym bag, ready to sweat it out on the elliptical and try to beat last time’s record for consecutive crunches. However, before you head out the door for the gym you feel a grumble in your tummy. You realise that you’re actually quite hungry – but should you eat right before your workout? Will eating help to give you fuel, or will it slow you down? If you choose to eat, what should you eat to make the most of your exercise time?
There is a lot of conflicting information and myths out there when it comes to what you should eat before (and after) your workout. Here are some important tips that you should keep in mind when it comes to eating before your workout:
Don’t Work Out on an Empty Stomach
Many people believe that exercising on an empty stomach will force your body to turn more stored fat into a source of energy – causing you to lose more weight. However, this is not really how it works. Instead, if you are trying to exercise without any fuel in your body you will find yourself feeling weak and lightheaded. You won’t have enough energy to push yourself during your workout and really build muscle, so you will end up burning fewer calories.
Your best bet is to have a small snack around 1-2 hours before exercising so that you have the energy to perform at your best. Of course, don’t eat a huge meal or a very high fat snack, because this will take too much energy to digest and it will make you struggle during your workout.
Do Drink Lots of Water
Drinking lots of water before, during and after your workout is essential. Your body will become dehydrated because you are losing water through sweat, so it is very important to replace these fluids. Drinking water will also help your body to properly and efficiently digest your food.
Don’t Eat Empty Calories
If you grab a chocolate bar or a can of energy drink or soda from the vending machine before your workout, you might experience a boost of energy… but you will soon crash. These empty calorie foods don’t offer enough nourishment and the sugar rush that they provide you will not last. Instead, you should look for a healthy snack that has plenty of protein and carbohydrates. Luckily, in many gyms NJ healthy vending machines are becoming more common, offering better choices such as energy bars, protein shakes and granola bars – so that you can pick up a healthy treat when you arrive at the gym.
Do Consider the Intensity of Your Workout
Remember that all workouts are not created equal, so not all pre-workout snacks should be either. If you are simply going out on a 30 minute walk, you will not need to supply your body with a lot of fuel to make it through. However, if you are taking an hour-long very high intensity aerobics class you might need a little bit more energy.
Don’t Forget to Also Have a Snack Afterward
It is also important to give yourself a small snack after you have completed your workout. Your body will have burned a lot of fuel as well as broken down muscle tissue, which means that it is essential to replenish both of these with food. By eating after your workout, you will refuel with the right nutrients which will help to maintain your muscle tissue, decrease soreness and prevent injury. Also, you need to replenish the glycogen stores in your body, or your body will start to burn muscle tissue for recovery and energy – which will negate the benefits of your workout.
A great snack to help you refuel after a very strenuous workout would be a wholegrain bagel and some fruit, or perhaps an energy bar.
These are just a few helpful tips to keep in mind when it comes to fuelling your body for a successful and effective workout. Remember, exercise is only one part of the equation when it comes to getting in shape – it is also important to provide your body with adequate nutrition so that it can be nourished and perform well. .
Tim Grimshaw is a blogger, freelance writer and fitness fanatic. He writes a blog about health and fitness tips and also contributes to several of health and fitness websites. He is currently training for a marathon and enjoys swimming and playing basketball.