How to Eat Before Your Workout

by Dawn Boulay, CPT

Has this happened to you? One day, I overslept, and ran off to catch a 6:00 AM interval training class at the gym, without eating. About 20 minutes into the class, I suddenly felt very weak and had a hard time following the instructor’s cues - weak enough that I actually had to leave the class about 2/3 of the way through, and grab a banana at the café – and I wasn’t even hungry.

Food is fuel for your body, and it’s necessary to put something appropriate into your stomach before exercising – even if you are not hungry - to avoid low blood sugar (dizziness, nausea, headaches), an energy deficit in your muscles, and to maintain mental sharpness.

For shorter workouts (an hour or less), you’ll need some quick, easily digestible energy from a high carbohydrate, low fat snack, such as fresh fruit, crackers, cereal and milk, bagel and juice, a sports drink, a fruit shake.

Each person will figure out what works best for themselves.


MORNING FRUIT SHAKE

Put the ingredients in the blender in the fridge the night before, so all you’ll have to do is flip the puree switch in the morning.

• ½ cup plain, lowfat yogurt
• 1 banana
• 1 cup fruit juice
• Berries, frozen mangoes or whatever else you like in your drink
Approx. 250 calories, 50 grams carbohydrate, 5 grams protein, 3 grams fat


For longer workouts, eat a larger meal, a few hours prior to ensure a calm stomach. Choose meals with carbohydrates that last longer, are low in fat, and eat just enough protein to satisfy hunger, as protein and fat are slower to digest.


QUICK PRE-WORKOUT THROW-TOGETHER PASTA

• 1 cup cooked whole grain pasta
• 1 tomato or ½ cup, chopped
• 1 pre-cooked chicken sausage, such as from Trader Joe’s, sliced
• 1 cup cooked broccoli or other cooked vegetable
• Fresh chopped herb such as basil, to taste
• 1 TB grated parmesan cheese
• a drizzle of olive oil

Combine all ingredients and heat in the microwave.


Training yourself to eat properly before exercising will reap big benefits!

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