Eating properly throughout the day is important for everyone, but there are certain types of food that should be eaten before a workout to help you maximize your fitness routine. Not only should you eat before a workout, but you should also eat afterwards.
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Food is fuel for your body, and without fuel you cannot workout correctly. You need to have both the mindset and the physical capability to workout.
If you have neither, your workout will not provide you with any progress. You will merely feel sluggish and lightheaded and you will not burn any sufficient calories or fat.
What should you eat before a workout?
The types of food you eat depend on when you are eating in comparison to your workout time. If you are on your way to the gym already then you should eat fewer calories than if you are planning on working out four hours away from your current meal.
If you eat balanced meals properly throughout the day it can help you get a better workout because your body will be using fuel consistently. However, it is still a good idea to pay attention to your nutrition before working out. You also want to avoid high fiber foods that may cause you to bloat and negatively affect your workout.
When you know you are going to work out, you should eat a meal complete with protein, carbohydrates, and fat. However, the closer your meal is to your workout time, the fewer calories you need to consume, as will be described below.
When should you eat before a workout?
Ideally, a complete meal of protein, carbs, and fat can be consumed a few hours prior to your workout. However, if you are eating close to your workout time then you need to adjust what you are going to eat.
Since fat takes approximately five hours to digest, you don’t want to consume too much fat less than four hours prior to your workout. Protein takes approximately three hours to digest, and carbohydrates take about two hours to digest.
The closer you get to your workout time, the less digestion time you have. Therefore you need to decrease your fat intake and then your protein intake as you get closer to working out. If you have less than an hour to an hour and a half before working out, try to eat only easily digested carbohydrates.
Whatever you do, avoid working out on a completely empty stomach. Your body will not know how to fuel itself and it will deplete your glycogen levels before you are done working out.
What carbohydrates should I eat right before a workout?
Regardless of how long before your workout you had a complete meal, it is a good idea to provide some easily digested carbs as fuel for your body shortly before you workout. Everyone reacts differently to what they eat and how much of it they have prior to working out, so you may need to try different things until you find what works for you.
Some different carbohydrates you may want to eat before a workout include a banana or other fruit such as apricots or watermelon. You can also eat a cup of yogurt or an English muffin with jam. If you prefer to drink something you can have a glass of orange juice, soymilk, or a fruit smoothie.
Easy carbohydrates to keep with you are crackers, pretzels, or tortilla chips. If you have the chance to eat a baked potato an hour or so before your workout that is an easy digested carbohydrate that will provide you with lots of fuel.
Energy bars may also be acceptable, but you need to read the nutrition label and determine if it is best suited for your workout time frame. If it is low in fat and protein and high in carbs then you can consume it shortly before your workout. If it is higher in protein and fat as well as carbs then you should eat it at least a couple of hours before you start exercising.
Just as important as the before workout meal is your post workout meal. Unlike your pre workout meal where you want to consume more carbs and less protein, your post workout meal should be a balanced blend of carbs and protein. After your workout you are no longer trying to fuel your body but trying to restore and repair what your body needs.
What you should eat before a workout depends ultimately on your timeframe. The closer you get to your workout time the less fat and protein you should eat and the more carbohydrates you should consume.
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