Hello we’ve got another informative Health Heads post for you!
This week we are talking about what and how to eat before an exercise bout.
It is so important to eat right before exercise so that you are at your full energy potential and not setting yourself up for a sub-par performance.
If you answer yes to any of the following, this post will be a game changer!
1: Do you feel lethargic going into workouts?
2: Are you hungry before starting your exercise bout?
3: You’ve never thought about pre-workout nutrition.
4: Can you never push yourself consistently in workouts, without breaking down?
The Amount of Food
Common sense should prevail here. The further from your workout you eat, the more you can consume. The closer you eat to a workout, the less food you should consume. The gold standard for carbohydrate intake we use is, multiply your weight (kg) by the time to the workout. For example, it’s 2pm and I am working out at 3. I would multiply 70 (weight) X 1 (time until the workout). Consuming 80 grams of carbohydrates here would be ideal.
Top Tip: The closer to exercise, the more effective carbs are. The further away from exercise, the more fats and proteins are effective.
Type of Food
The closer to exercise you eat, the more you should focus on carb intake. Carbohydrates are the best source of energy for the body to store for exercise. The carbs will go straight as muscle glycogen and help your energy levels. They are easily digested, so there shouldn’t be any stomach issues to worry about. Avoiding junk food snacks and sticking to natural forms of carbs will set you up for the most success. We like bananas, other fruits, or a slice or two of jam on toast. Find whatever works for you, and stick with it. You’re not looking for fancy eating here….just energy for your exercise bout. A lot of food will have fats and proteins aswell as carbs, and that’s fine but you are better off keeping the fat and protein intake to a minimum within an hour of exercise. Fats and proteins take longer to digest than carbs, so they can cause cramps and other GI issues. Of course there are exceptions to this rule. Some athletes we know have iron stomachs, and can handle a can of coke or a mars bar close to exercise. Find what works for you, that’s the best solution. Experimenting with different foods will bring you to the best nutrition strategy.
Top Tip 2: The body uses natural foods much more effectively than sugary snacks, so keep it natural for a sustained energy boost.
If you eat 2-4 hours before a workout, you should eat a normal size balanced meal. If you eat 1-2 hours before exercise, the meal could be halved- eating one half before the workout and the other half afterwards. If you eat within an hour of exercise, it’s best to keep the quantity to a snack size serving.
Top Tip 3: The closer you are to exercise, the lighter the meal should be.
If the workout is easier and aerobic in nature, you can be more flexible with portion sizes. Also the type of exercise plays a role in food intake. If you are running, especially, the up and down movement will mean that any excess food might become an issue! Exercise like cycling or lifting tends to put less strain on the stomach etc, so you may be able to consume more food, closer to an exercise session. It’s best to avoid going into a workout hungry or too full, both scenarios will cause discomfort during the activity.
Sample Food Diary – Steve
7.45~8.00 Breakfast………A bowl of porridge with a spoon of Peanut butter and slices of apples or bananas.
12~12.30 Lunch…… Bowl of rice, some form of soup, light serving of beef/chicken/fish, some form of steamed or fermented vegetables (Korean lunch at school cafeteria)
3~3.30 Snack 1…. Energy bar/banana/apples…1 snack size portion
4.40~5.00….. Exercise bout, run ranging from 10km~20km or gym session
10~30 minutes after exercise…. Find out in next weeks post about post exercise nutrition!
We hope you enjoyed todays post. If you have any specific questions for us or you would like to share a sample of your food diary, please comment below.
Until next time,
Steve and Catherine
The Health Heads 🙂