While athletes follow a strict regime in their exercise routines with planned meals and snacks, ordinary people like us try to squeeze thirty minutes to an hour of exercise in our consistently busy schedules. Do we also have to be as conscious as athletes when it comes to pre-workout snacks?
Typically I find that my clients work a full day and then will go to the gym anywhere
between 4 and 6PM. Usually, they have not eaten anything since lunch which was around 12-2PM. That means they are going to the gym having not eaten for at least 3 hours. If they do not have a substantial snack, their ability to maximize their exercise goes down dramatically. I find some clients are very sensitive and will experience drops in their blood sugar levels during the first 15-20 minutes of workout. That drop in blood sugar can cause tiredness, mild dizziness, or even fainting.
If you usually feel weak when exercising, have a drink or a snack before starting. Follow these guidelines and you’ll be fine.
Pre- Exercise Drinks
Before you begin your activity, make sure that you are well-hydrated. Drink 16-20 ounces of water 1-2 hours before starting your workout.
Sports drinks are advisable. They contain electrolytes that promote proper re-hydration.
Pre Exercise Snacks and Meals
The energy that you use during exercise doesn’t come from the food you’ve recently eaten. It comes from the carbohydrates and fats that are stored in your muscles, liver, and fat cells. So, before you begin your workout make sure to load up first to perform better.
First, eat a well-balanced meal 1-2 hours before you exercise. The larger the meal, and the more fat and protein it contains, the longer you may need to wait before exercising. The basic strategy here is to eat enough calories to equal about half the calories you expect to burn during your upcoming workout.
Include meals that are high in carbohydrates to keep your blood sugar and energy levels stable. Protein-rich foods are also good for fuel and give your muscles a headstart on recovery after exercise. Try out the following food combinations to maximize your performance level and see if they work for you.
Some clients feel best with fruit and yogurt, others feel better with having heartier snacks such as oatmeal , nuts or hummus. It really depends on how hungry you are and what you have consumed previous to your workout. These are areas that I discuss with my clients in detail.
- Fruit and yogurt
- Cereals (with more than 3 grams of fiber) and milk
- Trail mix with nuts and dried fruit
- Hummus and raw veggies
- Hard boiled eggs (or egg whites)
- Cottage cheese and fruit
- Half a peanut butter or turkey/chicken sandwich on whole grain bread
- Whole grain crackers with nut butter or cheese
- Whole grain fig (or fruit) Newton cookies
- Milk (especially chocolate milk)
- Tomato or vegetable juice
- Yogurt smoothie (with added protein powder, if desired)
- Most protein/energy bars
Second, If you are one that needs to eat a small snack (100 – 200 calories) about 30 minutes before you workout, then choose high GI foods that can be easily digested. This type of food is quickly converted into energy that will be used during your workout.
Here are some suggestions for pre-exercise drinks and snacks:
- Fruit juice
- Fruit smoothie
- High-glycemic fruits like pineapple, apricots, banana, mango, and watermelon
- Sports drinks
- Pretzels or bagels (but not whole grain varieties, which digest slowly)
- Energy bars (look for 3-5 grams of protein, at least 15 grams of carbs, and very little fat)
Eating the right food at the right time is essential for people who work out. By consuming meals during appropriate times before working out will keep your energy up and maintain your stamina throughout the day. This way, you can burn more fat. Just remember the simple rule of successful weight loss: You have to eat fewer calories than you use up, but not fewer than your body needs to function at its best.