When to eat before a workout to maximize the benefits of exercise

Figuring out how to plan your diet to maximize the benefits of exercise can seem difficult. Here, fitness experts share tips that can help you take stress and discomfort out of the equation and give your body the fuel it needs.

Whether and how long you should eat before working out depends on the intensity of the exercise you are going to be doing.

“If you are going to workout at very high intensity, you will need fuel to be able to use that glucose, the sugar, for energy,” said physiotherapist Nicholas Rolnick. Glucose, which we get mainly from high carbohydrate foods, is our body’s main source of fuel.

“If you are not giving your body the fuel it needs to exercise you to the fullest during these short periods of time, as well as your body’s ability to synthesize some of that energy during the workout itself, l ‘Your workout intensity won’t be as high as it would have been if you had had carbohydrates to help you maintain that workout, ”he said.

Important Note: Before starting any new exercise program, consult your doctor. Stop immediately if you feel pain.

Plan your meals and snacks before training

The negative effects of exercise on an empty stomach also include “feeling dizzy, having a headache, feeling weak and weak,” Personal trainer and weight loss coach Stephanie Mansour said by email. Conversely, if you eat too early or too much before your workout, digestion will steal some of the energy your muscles need to do their job.

You should eat between one and four hours before exercising, according to the consensus among experts, including the American Heart Association and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, it’s also important to get enough food and fluids – 16 to 20 ounces of water – before working out to balance fluid loss and improve the quality and duration of your workout. recovery.
The harder your muscles work, the more carbs they’ll need to keep going, wrote dietitian Christopher Mohr for Eat Right, an Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics publication. To fuel your rigorous workout, Mohr suggested eating oatmeal with low-fat milk and fruit, or a peanut butter and banana sandwich.
“Notice that each of these suggestions includes protein as well as carbohydrates,” Mohr wrote. “Carbohydrates are the fuel. Protein is what rebuilds and repairs, but also ‘prime the pump’ to make the right amino acids available for your muscles.” Amino acids help the body repair tissue, grow and further break down food.
Your pre-workout plate should contain mostly carbohydrates and a moderate amount of lean protein, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Limit dietary fat and fiber, as they take longer to digest.

On unique schedules and regimes

If you exercise early in the morning, you might think that it’s not possible to eat one to four hours before. If you are not someone who prefers to exercise before eating, what you can do in this case is have a small, easily digestible snack to get you started a bit ahead of time, a. Rolnick said.

18 comfortable pairs of sneakers for all day walking (courtesy CNN Underscored)

This light morning snack could be apple slices with nut butter, a banana or Greek yogurt and berries. You can also use this tip if you’re doing a short, low-intensity workout at any time of the day, the Cleveland Clinic advised.

“As a weight loss coach for women, I recommend that my clients have a hard-boiled egg or a handful of almonds before a workout, even if it’s within 30 minutes of exercise. , so that they have enough energy to complete their training session, “said Mansour. You can also drink a protein shake, she added.

“Eating earlier in the day also speeds up metabolism, which helps speed up weight loss,” Mansour said.

Whether and when you should eat before exercising can also depend on desired exercise results: some people who follow a low-carb, ketogenic, or intermittent fasting lifestyle try to train when their glucose stores are low, so they can burn off. fat instead of stored calories or foods they ate recently.

“If it’s part of your protocol, give it a try and see how you feel,” Mansour said. “Keep in mind that while you are fasting, low intensity workouts will likely help you feel more stable and less fatigued compared to high intensity training.”

All in all, you have to listen to your body. “At the end of the day, you are your best trainer and instructor. If you don’t feel good about eating before a workout, don’t,” Mansour said. “But if you’re doing the same things and you’re not happy with your results, change it. Eat before training, eat after training, change workouts, and ultimately listen to your body and change your strategies to achieve your goal. goals. ”


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