Let’s explore the answer to this itchy question by assuming that you are trying to squeeze in 30-60 minutes of exercise most days of the week. Obviously this question pops in one’s mind “Do I have to be careful about what I eat before and after my workouts?
If you ask me to give you a candid answer it will be “NO”, you don’t have to be so specific about eating before or after workout. If you’re eating a healthy diet and getting enough calories to support your activity levels you don’t have to worry about pre and post workout food at all, Having said that it is also true that, whether you need to eat anything before or after exercise depends on individual. Confusing…Buy the time you have read this blog, you will have your answer!
Interesting story of your body is that Most of the energy that you use during exercise doesn’t come from the food you’ve recently eaten! It actually comes from the carbohydrates (called “glycogen”) and fat that’s stored in your muscles, liver, and fat cells. That’s enough to get you going for 1 to 2 hours of very intense exercise such as spinning or cycling at speeds more than 17 km/hr or running continuously above 10 km/hr or 3 to 4 hours of moderate intensity exercise like jogging or running on a treadmill and weight training.
This means that if your overall diet is adequate to keep your fuel tanks topped off, technically or scientifically you don’t need to eat anything before you work out.
But BUT like everyone else you are different from other human beings, so I will divide you into 2 types of individuals, for simplification purpose:
1. Food before exercise drains me:
If eating before exercise upsets your stomach or you like to exercise first thing in the morning or at a time when eating first isn’t convenient, don’t feel like eating first is a must. Then you fall in this category.
2. Food before exercise makes me, workout better:
If you are someone who has a hard time exercising without eating first, especially if it’s been a long time since their last meal or snack then you fall in this category. Because my friend, you are more sensitive to changes in your blood sugar levels, which fall during the first 15-20 minutes of workout. That drop in blood sugar can cause tiredness, mild dizziness, or even faintness especially if your blood sugar was already low, but eating something beforehand can help prevent this.
NOTE: If you have health issues like diabetes or hypoglycemia that can cause low blood sugar, you’ll probably want to eat before your workout consider yourself as category 2. If you get very hungry during a workout and you feel that it interferes with your energy levels or focus, or if after an exercise session you end up overeating, try eating before you hit the treadmill or cross trainer to avoid these problems.
For those of you who fall in 2nd category, our suggestion at NidSun will be to eat a small snack about 30 minutes before you work-outs.
This small snack should include fast-digesting (high glycemic index) carbohydrates and very little fat (which digests slowly), so that you digest the meal quickly and the needed energy is available during your exercise session. Here are some ideas:
And if you want to have more filling foods such as Hard boiled eggs (or egg whites), Oatmeal, Cereals (with more than 3 grams of fiber) and milk, chicken sandwich on whole grain bread, chocolate milk, Most protein/energy bars and crackers with peanut butter or cheese, then consume them at least 1 hour before workout. At least 50-60% of these calories should come from carbohydrates, which should keep your blood sugar and energy levels fairly stable during your exercise session. Include some protein and little bit of fat to help prevent the breakdown of muscle for fuel and give your muscles a good recovery after exercise. In one line “it should be a nutritionally balanced meal”.
Eat Good Live lite