One of the most common myths about exercising is that you shouldn't eat beforehand. In fact, it's a good idea to take in good nutrition prior to exercising. Pre-workout meals give you the ability to sustain energy and the strength to perform well. Eating before working out, as well as after, is good for your body.
The main purpose of eating before exercising is to consume specific macronutrients that will aid your performance. As outlined by Precision Nutrition, the main food types to consume include carbohydrates, protein and fat.
- Carbohydrates. The main purpose of pre-exercise carb intake is to fuel your activity and to help with recovery if your regimen is particularly hard. Carbs also stimulate the release of insulin which improves protein synthesis.
- Protein. Protein is requires by the body to maintain muscle health. It also enriches your bloodstream in amino acids that will be utilized during your exercise.
- Fats. Contrary to what many people think, fats are necessary for good nutrition. Your food intake prior to exercise should include some fat to help slow digestion and to provide vitamins and minerals.
The Best Food to Eat Before Exercising
Given the three macronutrients suggested, a pre-exercise meal could include one or several of the following: Protein could be in the form of yogurt, lean meats, fish or eggs. Carbohydrate possibilities include fruit (banana, apple, berries), rice, whole-grain bread, and veggies. Healthy fats such as avocado and olive oils are also good foods to consider.
According to Healthline newsletter, the following examples are useful in planning for your before-workout eating plan:
- 2-3 Hours before. Suggestions include a lean-protein sandwich on whole-grain bread plus or minus a small salad.
- Within 2 hours. A protein-rich smoothie or a cup of oatmeal topped with fruit.
- 1 hour before or less. Yogurt and fruit or a protein nutrition bar.
Also, it is wise to consider what type of an exerciser you are. For most folks, eating a healthy meal 1-2 hours before exercise and another within 1-2 hours after exercise will suffice. Endurance athletes and competitors may require a more specific dietary program.