Although breakfast can be considered one of the most important meals of the day, what you eat before and especially after physical activity is equally as important. Some even argue that for athletes, post-exercise nutrition is the most important meal of the day!
With that said however, how to eat before and after exercise can be quite confusing. With all of the advertisements, advice and myths out there it’s no wonderful people aren’t sure where to turn. What I commonly see are people are either all gung-ho on the protein shakes and supplements (completely disregarding the need for carbohydrates and other essential nutrients) or decide not to eat at all. If your goal is to have energy for your next workout, build muscle or keep your body healthy, follow some key suggestions below.
Let’s start at the very beginning. What you eat before exercise is going to help you get the best workout possible and hopefully prevent you from “hitting the wall” or losing all your stamina and energy halfway through. In other words, eating well before physical activity will prevent fatigue and allow you to exercise longer and with more intensity.
During the Day
You know your body the best! Try different foods before a workout/event/competition. See what works best for you and stick with that. Listen to your body!
2-4 Hours Before = MEAL
Note: Portion size depends on your body size, gender and duration of exercise. For a full meal, some people find they need at least 3-4 hours before they exercise.
1-1.5 Hours Before = QUICK ENERGY SNACK
If you are hungry or your workout will last more than 1 hour, grab an “energy-sustaining” or “quick-energy snack.”
Interesting Nutrition Fact!
Did you know…
Carbohydrates are the MAIN source of energy for our body and the ONLY source of energy for the brain? Makes sense why you may find it hard to concentrate if you are hungry, hey? or feel like you have no energy for a workout if you had one quick meal during the day?
In other words, whenever we have food with carbohydrates in it, our body breaks it down into glucose (or energy). This is then converted into glycogen and stored in our muscles and liver. This glycogen acts like a “reserve” which our body will then use for energy during exercise.
Why do we want nice and full glycogen stores?
Will I notice if my glycogen stores are low?
Can I replenish glycogen stores during a workout?
What happens if I decide to have a low-carbohydrate diet?
** Remember, carbohydrate is the main source of energy for physical activity **
Within 30 minutes = SNACK
5. Vitamins and Minerals
Within 2 Hours = MEAL
Originally posted at oaktreenutrition.com