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Eating and exercise: 5 tips to maximize your workouts

 

mayoclinic.org

 

Knowing when and what to eat can make a difference in your workouts. Understand the connection between eating and exercise.

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Eating and exercise go hand in hand. When and what you eat can be important to how you feel when you exercise, whether it's a casual workout or training for a competition. Consider these eating and exercise tips.

1. Eat a healthy breakfast

If you exercise in the morning, get up early enough to finish breakfast at least one hour before your workout. Be well-fueled going into a workout. Studies suggest eating or drinking carbohydrates before exercise can improve workout performance and may allow you to work out for a longer duration or higher intensity. If you don't eat, you might feel sluggish or lightheaded when you exercise.

If you plan to exercise within an hour after breakfast, eat a light breakfast or drink something such as a sports drink. Emphasize carbohydrates for maximum energy.

Good breakfast options include:

  • Whole-grain cereals or bread
  • Low-fat milk
  • Juice
  • A banana
  • Yogurt
  • A pancake

And remember, if you normally have coffee in the mornings, a cup before your workout is probably OK. Also know that anytime you try a food or drink for the first time before a workout, you risk an upset stomach.

2. Size matters

Be careful not to overdo it when it comes to how much you eat before exercise. The general guidelines suggest:

  • Large meals. Eat these at least three to four hours before exercising.
  • Small meals or snacks. Eat these about one to three hours before exercising.

Eating too much before you exercise can leave you feeling sluggish. Eating too little might not give you the energy to keep you feeling strong throughout your workout.

3. Snack well

Most people can eat small snacks right before and during exercise. The key is how you feel. Do what works best for you. Snacks eaten soon before exercise probably won't give you added energy if your workout lasts less than 60 minutes, but may prevent distracting hunger pangs. If your workout is longer than 60 minutes, you may benefit by including a carbohydrate-rich food or beverage during the workout. Good snack options include:

  • An energy bar
  • A banana, apple or other fresh fruit
  • Yogurt
  • Fruit smoothie
  • A whole-grain bagel or crackers
  • A low-fat granola bar
  • Peanut butter sandwich
  • Sports drink or diluted juice

A healthy snack is especially important if you plan a workout several hours after a meal.

Dec. 20, 2016

References
  1. Kenney WL, et al. Body composition and nutrition for sport. In: Physiology of Sport and Exercise. 6th ed. Champaign, Ill.: Human Kinetics; 2015.
  2. Position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine: Nutrition and athletic performance. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 2016;48:501.
  3. Duyff RL. Athlete's guide: Winning nutrition. In: American Dietetic Association Complete Food and Nutrition Guide. 4th ed. Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley & Sons; 2012.
  4. Whitney E, et al. Fitness: Physical activity, nutrients, and body adaptations. In: Understanding Nutrition. 14th ed. Belmont, Calif.: Cengage Learning; 2016.
  5. Kotecki JE. Optimal nutrition for an active lifestyle. In: Physical Activity and Health: An Interactive Approach. 4th ed. Sudbury, Mass.: Jones & Bartlett Learning; 2014.
  6. Timing your pre- and post-workout nutrition. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. http://www.eatright.org/resource/fitness/exercise/exercise-nutrition/timing-your-nutrition. Accessed Nov. 1, 2016.
  7. Laskowski ER (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Nov. 2, 2016.
  8. Zeratasky KA (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Nov. 2, 2016.

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