There are various opinions about what to eat before exercise. You may get a variety of answers from personal trainers, news, magazines, etc so it can be extremely confusing.
First thing you should decide, what type of exerciser are you? You pre-workout meal and nutritional needs will vary depending on your intensity and duration.
1. Cardio or light strength training 35-40 minutes, a few days a week
If this describes your routine, you only need to worry about overall good nutrition. A well balanced diet, no skipping meals, and healthy, non-processed food choices. This will help provide you with sufficient energy, prevent fatigue, and aid in cardiovascular and muscle work. A simple pre-exercise snack and plenty of water will help fuel your body for your exercise. You want to aim for something that is not digested too rapidly, and a balance of carbohydrates and protein.
Try these ideas:
- A banana with 1 Tbsp peanut butter
- Low-fat yogurt and a piece of fruit
- Oatmeal made with skim milk and fruit
- Trail mix with nuts and fruits
- Granola with low fat milk and yogurt
- A smoothie made with low-fat yogurt, fresh fruit and wheat germ or flax meal
And remember to sip water throughout activity and after exercise
2. Athletes in Training
Athletes in training require a larger snack or meal for optimal performance. Athletes need a pre workout meal (200-300 calories) that is full of nutritious and wholesome foods, and most importantly it needs to be something their body is familiar with. Every individual tolerates and reacts to foods differently. You need to choose high carbohydrate, low-fat foods such as whole grains, high fiber foods, and consume them 1 hour prior to exercise. Try foods in the following categories:
AVOID high-fat protein sources such as fried meats, cheese and hamburgers. High fat and high protein foods take longer to digest and for the stomach to empty and may make you feel sluggish and nauseous thus decreasing your overall performance. And of course adequate water consumption is essential.
Estelle L. Benoit, RD, LDN
Source: rd411.com; Nancy Clark Sports Nutrition Guidebook