We may not realize it, but what we put in our body prior to exercise effects our athletic performance. It is important to understand the proper way to fuel your body before exercise if you want to get the most out of your workout. Here are some general guidelines on nutrition before exercise that can help you get the most out of your workout:
Timing of your last meal before exercise (depending on body weight, the more you weigh the higher the calorie intake):
1 hour before workout: 200-300 calories
2 hours before workout: 400-600 calories
3 hours before workout: 600-900 calories
Take in carbohydrates:
Carbohydrates digest the quickest so you won’t feel the undigested food weighing you down during your workout. The timing between eating your last meal and your workout will determine how high the foods glycemic index should be. So if it’s 2 or more hours prior to exercise, we want a slow release of sugar into our blood stream. We can do this by eating low glycemic index foods (carbs that won’t quickly release sugar in the blood to give us energy). If we consume high glycemic index foods 2 hours before exercise, there will be a rapid decrease in the blood sugar level, causing hunger right before you even start your exercise. A good example of a low glycemic index food to eat before exercise is an apple because it is made up of fructose which is slow to digest, making sure your glycogen stores are ready to fuel your intense workout!
Eat foods low in fiber:
The fiber in certain foods such as whole grains causes a decrease of water in your body and can cause swelling. Although whole grains take longer to digest, whole grains can cause you to feel gassy, bloating and GI upset during your workout. So even though it has the slow to digest component, its high fiber content could cause you a trip to the bathroom mid-workout..
Consume protein with the carbohydrates:
Research has shown that the mix of protein and carbohydrate intake before exercise improves endurance and stimulates protein synthesis after exercise. Not only does this help build muscle but it enhances recovery after your workout. Protein also lowers the glycemic index of the food, creating a slower release of sugar into the bloodstream which will help delay fatigue. So an example of a carb paired with a protein would be a fruit and a hardboiled egg.
Drink drink drink!
Drinking water not only gives you energy but it reduces the breakdown of protein during your workout. You never want to use muscle tissue as energy during your workout so making sure you are drinking enough water can help prevent that. A rule of thumb is to drink half of your body weight in ounces of water daily. So drink up!
There are so many factors that contribute to your performance and recovery. Being aware of the foods to choose prior to exercise can be very beneficial and enhance results. Now if only you knew what to eat after a workout!! You will have to wait and see next week’s Tuesday Trivia blog!
Reference: The Paleo Diet For Athletes by Loren Cordain