Whether you work out first thing in the morning or some time later in the day, what you eat before your workout can have a major impact on your performance.
For some people who hit the gym or the pavement before the break of dawn, eating and then exercising is like mixing oil and water. The thought, or previous bad experience, of food sloshing around in your stomach while you’re running or pumping iron doesn’t sit well. So you opt for skipping that important pre-workout fueling opportunity. Unfortunately, you could be doing more harm than good. Exercising on an empty stomach is like trying to run your car without any gas in the tank. Eating a little something will keep you more focused, give you more energy, and preventing injuries.
If you’re now convinced that eating before exercising is the right thing to do, the next question becomes – what should you eat? The most important things to put in your body before a morning workout is fluid (for hydration) and carbohydrates (for energy). Carbs are important, as they are the preferred fuel for your brain and body. Getting some carbs into your system jump starts your engine and allows it to keep going strong so it can burn more calories. It doesn’t have to be much. You’re looking for 100-200 calories of easily digested carbohydrate. Try one of the following:
- water and a banana, orange, or apple
- 8 oz. orange or pomegranate juice
- 1 slice of whole wheat toast with all-fruit preserves and water
- 1/2 cup oatmeal made with water or milk
If your workout time comes at lunch, after work or school, or later in the evening, what you eat in the hours leading up to your gym time can affect your performance. Just like a morning workout, you don’t want to go into it with an almost empty tank. About two hours before your workout, you should have a snack that will fill you up and provide you with enough energy for an effective session. Try:
- almond butter and banana sandwich
- 1 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt with berries and granola
- 1 cup nonfat cottage cheese + 1 cup fruit
- 1 whole wheat pita with 3 tbs. hummus
- 1 cup cold cereal + 1/2 cup milk + 1/2 cup fruit
- 1 energy bar, such as Kashi, Lara, Kind, Pure, Zing, Gnu, Raw Revolution
- Smoothie: 1 cup OJ + 1/2 cup berries+ 1/2 banana + 1 tbs. ground flax seed
Try it out today and see if it makes a difference in your workout.