As an athlete and dietitian I always love hearing about people’s daily eats and workouts and sharing mine. Something I’ve been hearing from my friends recently is that they are going hours without eating before an intense workout. If you exercise after work make sure you’ve had an adequate lunch 3-5 hours prior to your workout with carbohydrate rich foods, and have a 100-200 calorie snack of a carb rich food 30-60 minutes prior to your workout. The afternoon snack will help your body maintain adequate blood glucose and insulin levels. For the people that completely skip breakfast before a morning workout your liver glycogen is completely depleted from your overnight fast, you need to give your body some fuel before starting your workout. Taking in some carbs 30-60 minutes prior to your workout helps maintain glycogen stores and blood glucose levels aka keeps you from bottoming out, this includes eating something prior to your morning exercise. I know some people have trouble not knowing what to eat or not feeling hungry when waking up early but research shows that getting 30g (100-200 calories) of carbs before a workout can help improve performance. I won’t get to far into the science but your muscles cells need energy, your body’s main energy source is carbohydrates in the form of glycogen, when glycogen stores are low, fatigue occurs and your basically running on empty. Friends have told me that they feel fine during their morning workout… well if that’s true than following science that means they could feel amazing if they gave their body the proper fuel, and have a better workout. Also exercising on an empty stomach can lead the breakdown of muscle tissue, making a workout overall less effective. What to eat you ask… well you definitely want those pre exercise meals to be easily digested, lower in fiber and fat…
Pre exercise fuel suggestions:
– Cereal and milk
– Breakfast sandwich (eggs/bread)
– Breakfast tortilla or English muffin with peanut butter and banana
– Greek yogurt
– String cheese with fruit
– Trail mix with dried fruits and nuts
– Sweet potato with nut butter
– Energy bites (ground oats, nuts, and dried fruits)
In case you are wondering if I am practicing what I preach… I am. For afternoon workouts I have yogurt, fruit with nut butter, trail mix, or energy bites/Lara bars about 1 hour before my workout (right before I leave work). Today I have a pear with PB packed. For morning workouts (longer runs) I usually eat a bowl of cereal (Puffins, Cheerio varieties, Rice Crisps ) with low fat milk. This is something my body can easily digest and gives me the right mix of carbs with a hit of protein to help keep me from getting hungry. If I’m working out longer than an hour I usually take some fuel with me for a run. I will discuss during workout fuels and post workout recovery in a future post!
What do you use for pre-workout fuel?!