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Fuel Your Body Before a Workout

by Rosanne Ullman | September 22, 2016
 Louis-Paul St-Onge for Getty Images
Louis-Paul St-Onge for Getty Images

The length and intensity of your workout will determine what and when to eat before exercising. A comprehensive article at authoritynutrition.com includes this guide:

  • High-intensity workouts—Eat carbs to maximize your muscles’ glucose levels, which get depleted during intense workouts. “Carb-loading” does work!
  • Long but less intense workouts—Eat fats to fuel your body for longer time periods.
  • Top-performance goals—Eat protein to increase strength and improve muscle recovery. 

The best plan is to have a meal 2-3 hours prior to your workout that includes all three—carbs, fat and protein. If you’re eating only 45-60 minutes before your workout, eat less food, skip the fat and choose proteins and simple carbs that are easy to digest.

 

Sample meals 2-3 hours prior to your workout:

  • Sandwich on whole grain bread, lean protein and side salad
  • Egg omelet and whole grain toast topped with avocado spread and a cup of fruit
  • Lean protein, brown rice and roasted vegetables

Sample meals within 1-2 hours before your workout:

  • Protein smoothie made with milk, protein powder, banana and mixed berries
  • Whole-grain cereal and milk
  • A cup of oatmeal topped with banana and sliced almonds
  • Natural almond butter and fruit preserve sandwich on whole-grain bread

Sample meals within 1 hour before your workout:

  • Greek yogurt and fruit
  • Nutrition bar with protein and wholesome ingredients
  • A piece of fruit such as a banana, orange or apple

Don’t double up! If you ate a full meal two hours before your workout, you don’t need to eat again until your exercise is finished.

 

 

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