Exercise and food are closely related. This means that what you eat will determine how you feel when working out. This is true whether you engage in a competitive training exercise or a casual workout. So, it’s natural to wonder, “What should I eat to maximize my workout?” These tips should give you an answer.
1. Have A Healthy Breakfast
If you've been asking how long to wait after eating to work out, well, it depends. If you are working out after breakfast, wait for at least an hour. This will give you enough fuel to exercise. But considering what to eat before a workout is just as important whether you are headed for the gym or working out at home.
Studies suggest drinking or eating carbohydrates before your exercise so that you can improve your performance. This might also give you the energy to work at a higher intensity and for a more extended period. On the other hand, not eating any food might make you feel lightheaded or sluggish.
However, your breakfast should be light. If you choose to drink, go for a sports drink. Nevertheless, focus on carbohydrates. The best breakfast options include:
- Bread or whole-grain cereals
- Milk with low fat
One cup of coffee before your workout might also be acceptable. Note that you might experience an upset stomach by trying a new drink or food before your workout.
2. Check Your Portions
Now that we've established how long after eating to work out, let's determine the right portions. If you eat before a workout, make sure you do not overdo it. In case you decide to have large meals, make sure you eat three to four hours before your workout.
For small meals, give yourself between one and three hours before you start working out. As mentioned before, too much food might make you sluggish, while too little will deprive you of the energy you need to work out effectively.
3. Eat Healthy Snacks
For snacks, whether you eat before or after a workout will depend on your preference. Think of how you feel after snacking, then determine what works for you. However, snacks are not ideal for giving you the energy you need to finish a 60-minute workout.
But, they will prevent you from feeling hungry through the routine. This is why the best food option to eat before a workout is carbohydrates. Some foods among snacks you can try include:
- An energy bar
- Crackers or a whole-grain bagel
- A peanut butter sandwich
- An apple, a banana, or any other fresh fruit
- A fruit smoothie
- A low-fat granola bar
- Diluted juice or a sports drink
Plan for a workout several hours after a meal if you want to enjoy the benefits of a healthy snack.
4. Exercise Then Eat
What about eating after workout you ask? Well, it will help your muscles to recover and replace their glycogen storage. But you need to eat a meal rich in proteins and carbohydrates within two hours of your exercise for optimal results. The best food choices here include:
- Fruit and yogurt
- Pretzels and low-fat chocolate milk
- Vegetables with some turkey on a whole grain bread
- A peanut butter sandwich
- A smoothie for your post-workout recovery
5. Drink Fluids
Like food, fluids are essential before, during, and after a workout because they keep you from dehydration. These are the recommendations given on staying hydrated by the American College Of Sports Medicine:
- Before your workout, drink at least two to three cups of water.
- During your workout, drink about a cup or a half a cup of water at 15 to 20-minute intervals. You can make adjustments to this amount based on your body size and the weather.
- After your workout, drink at least two or three cups of water for every pound of weight you've lost.
Water is essential because it replaces your lost fluids. Opt to use a sports drink if you are working out for more than 60 minutes. This is because the sports drink will maintain your electrolyte balance and give you some extra energy.
6. Use Your Experience
Remember, your workout’s intensity and length will determine how often you drink and eat, including what you eat. For instance, walking a few miles requires less energy compared to running a marathon.
Additionally, do not try out new diets before a sports event that's bound to last long. You don't know how the new diet will affect your body. So, should you eat before a workout? It depends on your body because everyone is different.
All you need to do is keep watch of how you feel during your workout. Check your performance as well, and your experience will tell you what eating habits work best for you. If you have to, keep a food journal to monitor how you react to snacks and meals. Then adjust your diet for optimal performance.