Whether you're headed to the 6:00 a.m. CYCLONE class, mid-day workout, or 5:30 pm FitCamp, your body needs proper fuel to power through the workout. Skipping a balanced meal or snack before exercising can leave you feeling nauseated, light-headed, or even lethargic. Eating prior to exercise can increase your endurance, allowing you to have a longer, stronger workout. Ever stopped exercising because you felt shaky, dizzy, or really tired? You likely didn’t have enough fuel in you to have a successful workout.
But what should you be eating before a workout, and when?
The simple answer is this: a mix of carbohydrates and protein anywhere from 1 to 2 hours before hitting the gym. Carbohydrates are an excellent source of energy and will improve your performance, while protein works to build and repair muscle.
Here are a few of my favorite carb and protein combinations:
- A fruit smoothie that includes yogurt, nut butter, or spinach
- Hard boiled eggs and toast
- Oatmeal topped with blueberries
- Greek yogurt topped with berries, and granola
- Banana and a spoonful of peanut butter
If you only have 30 minutes before a workout, stick to something simple like a piece of fruit or granola bar. Try to avoid spicy food, generous portions of fiber and fat, and sugar bombs things like fruit juice right before exercising.
Fat is the digested more slowly than carbs and protein, leaving you feeling sluggish, while too much fiber can cause an upset stomach, and that's the last thing you want especially during a workout. Good nutrition is key for overall health and fitness: it is impossible to out-train a bad diet. What you eat and when you eat are both critical.
Eating the proper combination of nutrients before your workout will improve your performance, give you an energy boost, and help protect you from exhaustion and injury. Without the proper fuel, you might be damaging your metabolism, making yourself vulnerable to fatigue, and putting your muscles at risk.
Everyone’s body is different, and your needs will depend on your unique metabolism, the intensity of your workout, and the type of exercise you're performing. So, pay attention to how you feel and fuel accordingly. If you feel hungry, shaky, or fatigued during a workout, refuel with a larger snack or meal that includes carbohydrates (for immediate energy) and fats (for long-term energy).
Okay, so now that you know what to eat before your workout, it’s time to put it into practice! Go make yourself a peanut butter sandwich, and get ready to maximize your energy and results!