Here’s What — and When — to Eat Before Working Out

When it comes to working out, it’s important to feel energized, but it’s not always as simple as grabbing a snack on your way out the door. Eating too close to exercise is a recipe for discomfort, but heading to the gym hungry isn’t ideal either.  To learn how to maximize the potential of a workout by these examples. Keep in mind that I am not suggesting you do all of these prior to working out, it is a guide based on timing:

All Day Long

It’s never a good idea to start a workout with a water deficit. Make sure to stay well hydrated before, during, and after exercise. Keep in mind that the body needs to be hydrated to process calories; even being mildly dehydrated can slow down your metabolic rate.

Two to Three Hours Before a Workout

If you’re planning a meal a couple of hours before working out, I suggest eating a meal that is a mix of carbs, protein, and fat, which falls in the 300- to 400-calorie range, which include a small serving of lean protein with veggies, hummus or a fruit and nut bar (we’re partial to Kind and Larabars) with a small serving of greek yogurt . Avoid gassy food like beans and broccoli since they may cause intestinal discomfort.

One to Two Hours Before a Workout

As you get closer to your workout, carbs should become the focus of your snack (up to 50 grams) with just a little bit of protein. I suggest yams, clean protein. If you only have one to two hours before your workout, keep your snack under 200 calories. This mixed protein-carb snack will help you feel satisfied and fueled and may also help reduce muscle soreness.

15 to 30 Minutes Before a Workout

If you only have 15 to 30 minutes before a scheduled workout, choosing a small snack that is simple to digest is key. Pick a snack that has about 25 grams of carbs like a tablespoon of raisins (not dried), a small banana, or a small serving of applesauce.

Immediately Before a Workout

If you haven’t eaten in a while, don’t skip out on food — even if you’re just about to head to the gym. Your body will need the energy to power through whatever vigorous workout you put it through. Restrict this snack to simple carbs, an eight-ounce glass of coconut water should do the trick while adding electrolytes. The key is to stick to health simple sugars that won’t cause digestive discomfort midway through your workout.

Post-Workout Snack

Within 30 minutes of finishing an intense workout, eat a snack that is a mix of carbs and protein, depending on the time of day carbs could vary. This will help reduce muscle soreness, and, since your body’s metabolic rate is higher after a workout, it will give it the fuel it needs to recover. My faves: Half a medium apple smeared with a mixture of two ounces of vanilla Greek yogurt, half a tablespoon of natural almond butter, and a quarter teaspoon of cinnamon (151 calories), or  20 baby carrots with two tablespoons hummus (140 calories).

 

 


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