Fueling Your Workout

Although you may want to get your morning workout over before eating anything, it’s not a good idea. Before taking that early morning jog or working out at the gym, it’s best to eat something light before you work out.

Why Eat Before Working Out?

Doesn’t eating slow you down? That’s true if you stuff down too much food before working out. But in order to burn calories, you first need to fuel your body. Just have something light that won’t slow you down.

Pre-workout Foods

There’s no set rule for everyone who works out. Maybe you’re just trying to lose weight, rather than train as a bodybuilder. Granted, someone in training will have different nutritional needs from someone just trying to tone and shed some weight. Still, the same basic principle applies that if you want to lose weight–eat less and move more. On the other hand, to gain weight and add muscle, add more calories than you burn.

Before a workout, eat something light, as well as balanced. It’s also wise to choose foods low in fiber as it’s more digestible, giving you an easier workout. A few suggestions include anything from oatmeal and yogurt, veggie omelet and toast to a small turkey sandwich. Just don’t overdo it. Because the body digests carbs more easily than protein, a light muffin is a good choice. For best results, experiment and see what works best for you.
Post Workout Meal

Contrary to what you may have been told, it’s also important to eat a meal following a workout. In fact, it’s probably the most important meal of your day. After working out, don’t postpone eating for more than an hour. Allow about 10 minutes to wind down as you get dressed and leave the gym. Try getting in a meal about 30 minutes to an hour after working out, (closer to half an hour than an hour). Because working out reduces your glycogen, your body will turn to your muscle mass for energy if you don’t refuel.

Too often, people grab a ready-made shake after a workout, instead of sitting down and eating a meal. That’s okay, but be sure it’s a protein shake, and also add some healthy carbs, such as an apple or banana. When you sit down for a meal, include some protein and carbohydrates. However, go easy on fat (or just omit it), as it slows down digestion.

You need protein for your body to build and repair muscle. If you’re on the run choose something such as a bean and cheese burrito at a fast food restaurant when you don’t have time to go home for a meal. At home, of course, eat something such as chicken, along with green beans, and brown rice.

Evening Snacks

Despite what you may have been told, it’s fine to have a light evening snack (about 100 calories or less) as part of your food plan , provided it’s included in your daily calorie allotment. However, if having a nighttime snack triggers binge eating, forego it. For a sweet craving, reach for a small piece of fruit or berries. A protein snack is even better, such as a piece of cheese or turkey slice.

Finally, close down your kitchen after that bedtime snack, determining not to eat until morning. If you’re still tempted, then brush, floss your teeth, and use mouthwash. You won’t want to go to all that trouble, again, just because your will power caved in before you went to bed.

Originally published on Suite 101.

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