When planning your exercise sessions, it’s important to factor in how you’ll fuel those workouts beforehand and how you’ll replenish lost energy afterward.
You don't want to eat too much food before exercising, because if you become sluggish, nauseated or throw up, you've lost that workout.
But if you don’t eat, you might be too weak to lift the weights or too sapped of energy to swim laps.
Good food choices to fuel your workout include high-carbohydrate, low-fat snacks such as:
- a banana with yogurt;
- whole-wheat toasted bagel with fruit spread; or
- a quick bowl of instant oatmeal.
You’ll want your food to be mostly digested before exercise so it’s not sitting like a lump in your stomach. It may take little experimenting to find out the right amount of time to eat before a workout that feels best for you. Bear in mind that large meals can take as long as five to six hours to digest and empty from the stomach, whereas a smaller snack may take an hour.
After your workout, it’s essential to refuel your body with a carbohydrate-protein blend, such as:
- a peanut butter sandwich;
- a small handful of walnuts or almonds; or
- a fruit smoothie with some protein powder.
Of course, don’t forget to drink water before, during and after your workout to avoid dehydration.
And remember that eating a low-fat, well-balanced diet the rest of the day will help ensure that your motor is running efficiently both during exercise and at rest.