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.