When speaking about working out, most experts say it’s important to feel fueled up. While eating right before the training session may cause discomfort, hitting the gym on an empty stomach isn’t the solution either. Heidi Skolnik, a nutritionist, and author of Nutrient Timing for Peak Performance, shares her tips on proper pre-workout eating.
All through the day
Never start your session if you’re dehydrated. Make sure you drink enough water before, during, and after a workout. Don’t forget that your body needs to be well-hydrated to torch calories. Even the slightest water deficit may slow down your metabolism.
2 to 3 hours before a workout
If you’re used to eating a couple of hours before your training session, Heidi suggests having a meal that contains protein, carbs, and fat, and is kept under 400 calories. That could be a fruit and nut bar with a small serving of yogurt, hummus and pretzel crisps, or a small serving of lean protein with veggies. Stay away from gassy foods like broccoli and beans; they may lead to intestinal discomfort.
1 to 2 hours before a workout
The closer your workout is, the more focused you should be on carbs. Have a snack containing around 50 grams of carbs and a bit of protein. Heidi’s suggestion is trail mix with a latte or a serving of cereal with skim milk. Make sure your snack contains 200 calories or less. This quick protein-carb snack will help relieve muscle tension and make you feel energized.
15 to 30 minutes before a workout
As Heidi says, a small, easily digestible snack will be perfect to eat half an hour before your workout. Grab a snack containing about 25 grams of carbs. A small banana, a tablespoon of raisins, a small serving of applesauce, or a few saltine crackers will work.
Right away before a workout
Skipping a meal before a workout is never a good idea, especially when you’ve been hungry for a while. As your body needs energy for an intense session, you better have a light snack containing up to 15 grams of carbs. Heidi suggests having one slice of white bread, seven to nine jellybeans, or an eight-ounce sports drink. The point is to consume simple sugars, which save you from digestive discomfort in the course of your training session.
Snack after a workout
A protein-carb snack within half an hour after a kickass workout will help reduce muscle soreness. Moreover, since your body’s metabolic rate is higher after a session, such a snack will provide your body with the fuel for a proper recovery.
Heidi recommends a serving of cottage cheese with a pineapple or banana, yogurt, or chocolate milk.