The best athletes take great care to time their snacks and meals very carefully to ensure that they are always able to perform at their best, but many people don’t realize that similar rules apply to those of us who aren’t headed to the Olympics.
Even if you’re just going to do laps at the pool, are going for a long brisk walk in the morning, or are getting into running, if you put a bit of care into the foods that you eat before a workout (and afterward, for that matter), you will be able to get a lot more out of each activity.
Unfortunately, most of us don’t take that step. This is particularly true when we already feel like we’re already eating a relatively healthy diet, overall. That said, what you eat before a workout can greatly impact your energy levels, appetite, and overall experience as you exercise. When it comes to forming a pre-workout snack, the key is actually to find out what works the very best for you, and then stick to it. There is no single formula that is perfect for every person. However, there is some great advice that you can follow that can help you to discover what the best options really are.
The first thing that you should know is that if your goal is healthy weight loss, then you will need to eat fewer calories than you will need to burn, but not fewer than are required in order to allow you to function at its best. Therefore, if you think that exercising on an empty stomach is your best bet, this is likely not the case. Most experts will tell you that if it has been a while since you last ate, then you should have something before heading out for your workout. It may add calories at the start, but it means that you’ll power through the exercises much more effectively and you’ll burn more than you otherwise would. This can also help to prevent fatigue, weakness, and dizziness.
The next thing that you should know is that you will need to be well hydrated to be your most effective. In the one to two hour period before you start your workout, try to drink between 16 and 20 ounces of water. Don’t push it. If you’ve had a glass of water already and you’re really not thirsty, you don’t need to water log yourself. But work on making sure that your body is thoroughly hydrated by the time you get started. Then the water you drink during your workout is merely maintenance.
Your pre-exercise snack shouldn’t be too large or heavy. It should, however, be enough to stop your blood sugar levels from plummeting to the point that you won’t be all that effective. During the first 15 to 20 minutes of a workout, blood glucose levels naturally drop. If you don’t start off with a high enough level, this can lead to very poor performance, as well as dizziness, tiredness, or even faintness.
Your goal should be to eat a light snack of between 100 and 200 calories about a half hour before you start your workout. It should be made up of food that is fast to digest. Usually this means carbohydrate rich foods that are very low in fats. Examples include fresh squeezed fruit juice, energy bars, and high glycemic fruits such as bananas, mangos, pineapple, apricots, or watermelon. Remember to think of what’s best for your body when you eat before a workout for best results.