While eating well can help energise you for exercise, what you actually put inside your body beforehand is one of the deciding factors for getting the best results. Find out what food is best, plus how much to eat and drink before a workout, according to Health Factory dietician Divya Samant.
What to eat:
A meal of easy-to-digest carbohydrates for energy, lean protein for your muscles and blood cells to help bring oxygen and nutrients to muscles. Throw in a little heart healthy fats, and fibre, plus make sure the meal also contains vitamins and minerals which act as catalysts for metabolic reactions.
What not to eat:
Avoid trying new kinds of food you’re not sure how your body will react to plus anything you already know you may intolerant to. High fibre and high fat may cause discomfort during exercise and make you feel sluggish.
When to eat and how much:
Large portions of food before any workout might cause nausea and cramping. You should feel comfortable during the workout.
Heavy meals such as pasta made with lean meat and vegetables, egg white vegetable pulav made with brown rice, breakfast cereals and milk, oats and mix berry smoothie, cheese toast with milk, or a grilled chicken sandwich is suitable around three hours before the work out.
Snacking 60 to 90 minutes before a workout is okay with foods like a fruit milk shake, cereal bars, a bowl of fruit, banana and low fat yoghurt. Bananas are a source of potassium which helps in maintaining nerve and muscle function.
If you’re trying to lose weight and you train early in the morning you can skip the meal because the body is in the fasting state and this will result in a greater proportion of fat being used as the exercise fuel compared to doing the same workout after a carbohydrate-containing meal or snack.
If your goal is to improve performance, have something to eat before exercise.
What and when to drink:
Water acts as your body’s cooling system. The best way to stay hydrated is to drink plenty of fluids with meals, and drink about 2 cups (16 ounces) of water two hours before exercise. Water is often enough. But if exercising for more than 60 minutes in hot, humid conditions like outdoors in the summer or doing bikram yoga, sports drinks may help. They give you carbs and sodium, as well as fluids.
What not to drink:
If you are sensitive to caffeine you may experience nausea, muscle tremors, and headaches. Too much caffeine is a diuretic, and can result in dehydration, which decreases performance so perhaps ditch the coffee and red bull before the gym.