If you have been searching for a hard and fast rule about what, when, and even if you should eat before working out, unfortunately there is none. There is no secret to timing your meals in order to get the most out of your workout — the best combination of when and what to eat varies from person to person. But… making the right “fuel for fitness” decisions for you and your body can make a huge difference in the effectiveness of your workout.
Fuel Stored, Fat Burned
Most of the fuel you use during exercise does not even come from the food you have recently eaten. It actually comes from carbohydrates called “glycogen” and fat stored in your muscle, liver, and fat cells. Enough energy lies in these three locations to power you through three to four hours of moderate exercise. If your overall diet is adequate, you may not need to eat anything at all before a workout. So, if eating before a workout upsets your stomach, or if you exercise at a time when you’re not hungry, there is absolutely no need to force yourself to eat something.
While eating a large meal an hour or less before working out is not recommended, if you have a hard time working out without something in your stomach, that’s fine too! Eating a snack before exercising will not negatively impact your workout. In fact, if you have diabetes or hypoglycemia, eating before working out is encouraged.
Snacks recommended before exercise are foods that are fast-digesting (high glycemic index) carbohydrates with very little fat, (which digests slowly) so that you get the most efficient nourishment for your workout.
Good choices for pre-workout snacks include fruit and yogurt, granola bars, a whole-grain bagel/crackers with peanut butter, or trail mix with nuts and dried fruit. When it comes to eating and exercise, what’s most important is to get to know your body and how it responds to a workout so that you can give it what it needs to perform at its optimal level.
Jumpin’ Java, Latte Energy
While there is no magic formula to determine what to eat before a workout, there may be one magic ingredient: Coffee. Drinking a cup of coffee before a workout can increase stamina while helping to promote weight loss. Research on cyclists has even shown that those who had caffeine while riding pedaled faster and longer than those that drank water.
Studies have also shown that a cup of coffee before hitting the gym can delay exercise induced fatigue by 60 percent! If you want the most out of your workout, try drinking a cup of coffee– just leave out the calorie heavy creamer!
Making smart food choices and staying consistent with your workout will keep your body in fat-burning mode and will achieve the best results for your fitness goals!