Did you know when and what you eat can have an impact on your workout? Eating and exercise are connected.
According to Dr. John M. Murphy, a family medicine physician with Mayo Clinic Health System, you can maximize the effectiveness of your workouts by using a few tips:
Eat a healthy breakfast
If you exercise in the morning, get up early enough to finish breakfast at least one hour before your workout. This will give you energy and raise your blood sugar. If you don’t eat, you might feel sluggish or lightheaded when you exercise. Good breakfast options include whole-grain cereals or bread, bananas, and yogurt. A cup of coffee is OK, too. Emphasize carbohydrates for maximum energy.
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You want to be careful not to overeat before exercise. Eat large meals at least three to four hours before exercising. Small meals should be eaten two to three hours before exercising. You can have small snacks an hour before exercising. Eating too much can leave you sluggish, and eating too little might not give you the energy to stay strong during your workout.
Most people can eat small snacks right before and during exercise. It’s important to do what feels best for you. Snacks shortly before exercising probably won’t give you an energy boost, but they can help maintain blood sugar levels and prevent distracting hunger pains. Good snack options include energy bars, yogurt, low-fat granola bars and peanut butter sandwiches.
Eat after you exercise
Eating after you exercise will help your muscles recover. If possible, within two hours, you’ll want to eat a meal that contains protein and carbohydrates. Good post-workout food choices include yogurt and fruit, peanut butter sandwiches, pasta with meatballs, and chicken with brown rice.
Remember to drink fluids. You need adequate fluids before, during and after exercise to prevent dehydration. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that you drink two to three cups of water before your workout, half to one cup of water every 15 to 20 minutes during your workout, and two to three cups after your workout for every pound of weight you lose during the workout.
“The duration and intensity of your workout will determine how often and what you should eat and drink,” Murphy said. “Pay attention to how you feel during your workout, as well as your overall performance. Let your body guide you on which eating habits work best for you.”