Exercise is one of the most important things you can do for your health. Even though exercise is often seen as a way of losing weight, it offers many more benefits to health. Exercise fights heart disease such as high blood pressure, boosts your mood and energy, can help you sleep better, and believe or not can also be fun!
Whether you are a woman who may not be very active (but would like to be), are relatively active or love exercising at home or in the gym, your nutrition while you exercise is important. This post will be the first of a two part series, Eating for Exercise, where you will learn how you can nourish your body as you get moving.
Importance of Eating for Exercise
I have had clients not wanting to eat before or after their workout because they felt like it would defeat the purpose of "burning all those calories". This is a myth because eating the right types of foods can help you achieve your fitness goals sooner. Giving your body the nutrients and energy it needs both before and after you exercise is important so that you are not harming or exerting your body.
Today’s discussion will be about pre-workout nutrition and I will be sharing tips on how you can fuel your body before a workout to get the best performance and results.
While there are a variety of supplements on the market today, eating the right amount and type of food can be just what you need to get the results you want from your workout. Healthy foods provide your body with vitamins and minerals that have hundreds of functions in the body. If you do or are aiming to do low-intensity exercises, an overall healthy and balanced diet with a variety of foods will complement your exercise regimen well.
Eating before you exercise is important so that you do not feel tired. Fuelling your body before you workout will help you exercise longer, more intensely and can also make your workout feel easier. Well-chosen and well-timed foods and drinks can:
Stabilize blood sugar levels
Keep you hydrated
Give you energy so you can improve your exercise
Tips for Eating before Exercise
Here are a few tips to help you plan your pre-workout meals:
Eat 1-4 hours before you exercise. In order for you to have the energy to work out, you want to eat enough so that you feel satisfied but not so much that you feel full before you work out. As a rule of thumb, the longer you have before you exercise, the bigger your meal and snack can be. If your exercise routine will be intense, you can try having a small energy dense meal so that you do not have an upset stomach
Eat foods high in carbohydrates. Carbohydrates give your brain and working muscles the energy it needs for exercise. Some good choices for carbohydrates are grains, fruits, or starchy vegetables.
Eat foods high in protein, such as meats, dairy products, eggs, or nuts/nut butters.
Select foods lower in fat and fibre. Fat and fibre are slowly digested, which may result in stomache cramping while you exercise. Foods that are high in fibre can produce gas or bloating which can impact your ability to exercise. Avoid eating too much fat or fibre right before you exercise but do include it in your overall diet.
Drink fluids to start your exercise well hydrated. Water is the best option to stay hydrated
Choose foods you know you can tolerate. To make sure different foods are tolerated well, try these foods a few hours before you exercise so that you do not feel ill while you workout. It may take a few tries to find the perfect pre-workout meal/snack!
If you do not feel like eating before you exercise, you can try having a liquid meal like a smoothie or a low-fat milk or soy beverage that digests quickly. You should avoid exercising on an empty stomach because this can impact your performance. Exercising without eating can:
Make you feel tired or weak
Impact your performance
Make your exercise routine seem even more difficult (and not fun!)
Hinder the results you hope and expect to see
Pre-workout Snack Ideas
Are you ready to exercise? Try one of these pre-workout snacks!
Granola with milk and mixed berries
1 Toast or 1/2 bagel with peanut butter and sliced banana
Smoothie made with milk and fruit
Plain Greek yogurt with 1/2 cup frozen fruit
Apple with 2 Tbsp peanut butter and a sprinkle of cinnamon
Do you normally eat a snack before exercising or do you skip it all together? Let me know in the comments below!
Are you ready to begin your healthy lifestyle journey but don't know where to start? Join me and many other women with The Muslimah’s Meal Plan!