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 tricky. 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 plan to work out 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 foods high in carbohydrates, is the main fuel source.

“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 physician. Stop immediately if you experience pain.

Plan your meals and snacks before training

The negative effects of exercise on an empty stomach also include “feeling dizzy, headache, feeling faint, and feeling weak,” Personal trainer and weight loss coach Stephanie Mansour said via email. weight. 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 jobs.

You should eat between one and four hours before exercising, according to expert consensus, including American Heart Association and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Consume enough food and fluids – 16 to 20 ounces of water – before training is also important to balance fluid loss and improve the quality and duration of recovery time, depending on the American College of Sports Medicine.
The harder your muscles work, the more carbs they’ll need to keep going, wrote dietitian Christopher Mohr for Eat well, a publication of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 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 repairs tissue, grows, and further breaks down food.
Your pre-workout plate should contain mostly carbohydrates and a moderate amount of lean protein, depending on 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, easy-to-digest snack to get you started a bit ahead of time, a. Rolnick said.

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

“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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Richard V. Johnson

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