Whether you’re tying on your running shoes, pumping up your bike tires, or packing your gym bag, you should also be considering how to fuel your body for your workout. What you eat before you exercise directly affects your workout: how you feel during your workout, how hard you can push yourself, how long you can go for and how you feel afterward. Particularly for those of you who exercise to keep those pesky pounds at bay, it’s important to realize that you need to fuel yourself with quality food choices in order to set the stage for sustainable weight loss. Heading to the gym with an empty fuel tank isn’t going to get you very far!
Now is a great time to take a moment to consider what your best pre-workout fuel might be. Here are simple guidelines to send your energy soaring so that you can feel great, and get the most out of your workouts and summer adventures!
a) Timing is key. Ideally, you want to eat 45 minutes to an hour before you workout. Your body requires energy to digest your food. So . . . when your body is digesting your latest meal there is less energy available for your workout. Therefore, it’s a good idea to give your body a chance to digest before diving into your workout. I recommend eating up to 2 hours prior to your workout. You also want to choose foods that are easily digestible (read on!). If you need to eat immediately before your workout an easily digestible piece of fruit such as an apple or banana is a great choice.
b) Choose foods that are easy to digest, but also offer long lasting energy. For your pre-workout meal it's important to chose your foods carefully. A white bagel will give you a quick blast of energy, but will then cause a serious energy slump in the middle of your workout. This will also leave you ravenous after your workout. Conversely, a meal of whole grains like quality granola or oatmeal will keep your energy high for a long period of time. Complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, fruits and veggies are good choices before your workout. These foods are easy to digest so your body can devote more energy to your workout. They'll also deliver a high quality and sustainable energy to your body that will keep your fueled and satisfied during workout and beyond.
c) Include a healthy fat in your pre-workout meal. Healthy fats such as avocado, chia seeds and quality oils will keep your body satisfied for long periods of time. Healthy fats slow down the digestion rate of other foods, which allows you to workout for longer without needing to stop for a snack.
d) Avoid high protein/high calorie energy bars and powders before your workout. When it comes to exercise many of have been taught to think protein, protein, protein. Though protein is important, you don’t necessarily want to focus on protein prior to your workout. High protein energy bars and powders can be hard to digest, which will slow you down and cause fatigue and heaviness during your workout. They’re also high in calories, which can sabotage your weight loss efforts (unless you’re an extreme athlete who’s active for many hours)
Curious to know some of my favorite pre workout foods?
Oatmeal, fruit & nuts: This is a quick and simple choice that is will digest easily well, offer long lasting energy and give you a punch of energy that will get you started on your workout.
Whole Grain toast & Avocado: Throw some quality whole grain or sprouted grain toast in the toaster, slice up some avocado and voila, a perfect pre-workout meal! This combo will keep you satisfied and nourished for many hours.
Smoothies: A fruit smoothie with some avocado or chia seeds is like liquid energy. Your body doesn't need to spend as much time digesting so the nutrients and energy can go straight into your blood stream.
Don't forget to pay attention to your food choices during and after your workouts too! Now that you've started to consider fuel for before your workouts it's a great time to think about your food choices during and after. I will reveal my secrets in my upcoming 30 day nourishment challenge. This series of audio classes will send your energy soaring for the summer and build your nutritional foundation so that you can do everything that you love!