Confinement does not prevent physical activity. Neither inside nor outside. Here’s exactly what to eat to fuel your exercise session, without overdoing it on the calories.
The food you put in your body before, during and after a workout can definitely influence your health and whether or not you achieve your training goals.
Still wondering what to eat before and after a workout? Or if it is necessary to eat at all? These are important questions to ask. Because the right fuel can make a huge difference in your energy level, your mood and your results. So greatly influence your chances of training again.
The world of pre and post workout nutrition is confusing and there is no single answer. However, you should know that the food you eat before, during and after your workout can have a definite influence on how you feel and whether or not you achieve your training goals.
Specific recommendations for what to eat, when, and how much vary greatly depending on the time of day, type of workout, and your personal goals.
What to eat before a workout and how long to wait before doing physical activity
In general, it is advisable to eat a combination of protein and carbohydrates before a workout to maintain energy and build muscle. On the other hand, foods high in fat or fiber (think broccoli or sandwiches) should be avoided. They can cause stomach upset and cramps.
But what you need to eat before a 30 minute walk will be different from what you eat before a 20 kilometer training run. Here’s what you need to know.
If you exercise for less than an hour
It is not necessary to eat first thing in the morning. Indeed, there may be an advantage to not eating before morning workouts that are not too intense. If you have an easy or light morning workout and are trying to lose weight, it might be best to drink a glass of water but not eat. This encourages your body to burn a higher percentage of body fat to fuel your workout. According to a study published in the December 2015 issue of the journal EBioMedicine, you can burn more fat in 24 hours if you train before breakfast than if you train later in the day.
But if you wake up hungry, you may need some food in your stomach before activity. Signs that indicate you’re too hungry to run empty are excruciating pain from hunger, headache, dizziness or lightheadedness, irritability, or inability to concentrate.
In these cases, even if you only have 10-15 minutes before your workout, eat a small amount of quickly digestible carbohydrates. Like 4 cl of fruit juice, a small banana, a handful of grapes or a handful of cereal to ensure you have the physical and mental energy to move.
Other data suggests that this type of small, high-carb snack (or even a slightly larger 200-calorie snack) can also improve the feeling of relaxation after your workout.
If you exercise for more than an hour in the morning
You should then always eat a small amount of easily digestible carbohydrates. Like the options mentioned above, in order to have the energy necessary to continue your training. If you wake up at least 30 minutes before your workout, you’ll have plenty of time to digest an even more substantial snack of around 200 calories.
Waking up with enough time to eat breakfast before an intense workout can be ideal. The extra calories in your body help prevent fatigue. So that you have enough energy to complete your workout at a time of day when you might otherwise feel quite exhausted. You can push further when you have some fuel in you!
If you exercise later in the day and have had a meal in the last two or three hours, you should be able to complete your workout without an additional source of pre-workout fuel. But if you haven’t eaten recently, you should eat a 100-200 calorie snack within 30 minutes to an hour before your workout to be mentally and physically ready.
How long should you wait to exercise after eating?
If you have just had a meal, you should wait two to three hours before exercising. If you just had a snack, wait about half an hour.
Do you really need to fuel up mid-exercise with a sports drink?
The answer, for the vast majority of people, is no. Short-duration workouts (60 minutes or less), such as indoor training, yoga, light jogging, and CrossFit, can only be fueled with pre- and post-workout meals or snacks . You don’t need anything but water during your workout.
People who do longer endurance exercises, like running or cycling for 60-90 minutes or more, however, benefit greatly from mid-workout fuel. It may delay the onset of fatigue and improve performance, according to decades of exercise science research.
After the first 60 minutes, you should aim to consume 30-60 grams (g) of carbohydrates per hour.
The best things to eat after a workout
Most people who exercise moderately for an hour or less do not need a specific recovery food if they are going to eat a snack or meal that includes a mixture of carbohydrates and proteins in the few hours following their exercise session. But athletes should pay more attention to what they eat after exercise.
“Recovery nutrition” tends to be greatest after intense endurance or strength training (eg, a 90-minute bike ride or a weightlifting session). Or when an athlete trains several times in the same day.
In these cases, the ideal is to eat proteins and carbohydrates within an hour of exercise. This time immediately after training is when your body is most efficient at using the protein you eat to build new muscle and prevent your existing muscle from breaking down. Your body may also need additional carbs to restore glycogen levels (a form of carbohydrate stored in muscle). This helps to fuel future exercises.