Category Archives: Food

What You Should Eat Before You Work Out

The right fuel before you work out might can help you perform at your best.

Your body relies on a good store of carbohydrate to maintain blood sugar while you exercise – but after an overnight fast, those stores could be running low. So eating before a hard workout can help provide enough fuel for working muscles. There’s a practical reason for eating before a long workout, too – it keeps you from getting hungry while you work out.

What You Should Eat Before You Work Out

Since carbs are so important to your body’s engine, your pre-workout meal should be relatively high in carbohydrate. A little bit of protein is good, too. It will slow digestion just a little bit – enough to allow the carbs to enter the bloodstream a little more slowly and steadily. On the other hand, you don’t want to eat a lot of fat right before you head out – it can slow digestion too much and leave you feeling uncomfortably full. And save your high fibre foods for afterwards, too, since they also take a while to work their way through your system.

what-to-eat-before-a-workoutAs far as what specific foods you eat – there are no hard and fast rules. A smoothie made with fruit, milk and protein powder works well if you’ll be working out relatively soon after eating; a turkey sandwich and a bowl of soup at lunch will be pretty well digested if you’re going for a run in the mid-afternoon. If you work out in the mornings but you just don’t like breakfast foods, then eat whatever appeals to you. Most people don’t see anything ‘wrong’ with eating a bowl of cereal for dinner, so why should it be ‘wrong’ to eat leftovers for breakfast?.
When You Should Eat Before You Work Out

There are specific guidelines for meal timing – but in reality, you have to go with what feels right. Some people can eat as usual just before exercising, while others prefer a lighter load in the stomach. Generally speaking, the longer you have to digest your meal before you start working out, the larger and more solid your meal can be.

If you’re going to be working out within an hour or so of eating, then you’ll want a small semi-solid or liquid meal that will empty from your stomach relatively quickly. A smoothie, for example, would be light and easy to digest. If you’re going to work out in the mid-afternoon, a regular, well-balanced meal at lunch should have you covered. If you’ve got a hard workout scheduled right before dinner, you’ll need a light snack in the mid-afternoon – a carton of low-fat yogurt with some fruit would work.

How Much You Should Eat Before You Work Out

Some athletes like to know the specifics of what they should eat before a workout – and the guidelines are very specific. Most people just use the ‘trial and error’ method until they figure out the eating schedule that works for them.

For those of you who want to know the details, here they are: athletes are advised to eat between 1 and 4 grams of carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight (or, 0.5 grams of carbohydrate per pound of body weight) one to four hours before exercising. The reason for the range is that it depends on how soon you’re going to exercise after eating. The longer you have to digest, the more you can eat at the pre-exercise meal.

1 hour to digest before exercise – 1 gram carbohydrate/kg body weight
2 hours to digest before exercise – 2 grams carbohydrate/kg body weight
3 hours to digest before exercise – 3 grams carbohydrate/kg body weight
4 hours to digest before exercise – 4 grams carbohydrate/kg body weight

Don’t Eat More Than You Burn

One final note – if your workouts aren’t particularly vigorous or lengthy, this advice may not apply to you. Not everyone needs to fuel up before exercising. If your routine consists of a 30-minute brisk walk in the morning, that’s a great regimen – but it’s also not so intense that you need to top off your tank before you head out.

Written by Susan Bowerman, MS, RD, CSSD. Susan is a paid consultant for Herbalife.

Best Food Before A Workout

Director of Sports and Fitness at Herbalife, John Heiss is often asked about how athletes can improve their performance.  His response: It comes down to sports nutrition – you need to feed your body what it needs so that it can perform. He explains what you need before, during and after a workout.

You get stronger while eating and sleeping – not while working out.

Pre-workout food and nutrition

2 to 3 hours: can eat a full meal, generally limit fat.

1-2 hours: Something light (sports bar, fruit – mostly carbs, some protein)

1 hour: Sports drink with electrolytes, some calories – something easy to digest. A caffeine + nitric oxide (NO) product will be useful to get the most out of your workout (energy, focus, muscle pumps, blood flow).

Target: caffeine (50-150mg), arginine (2-3g), creatine (2-3g), amino acids, electrolytes (100-200mg sodium), some carbs (10-20g), some protein ok (<10g)

Herbalife Formula 1 Sport Pre Workout Food

During workout:

Don’t be scared of carbs here. Carbs will give you energy to complete a longer workout with more energy – and you’ll be able to do more reps with more weight at the end of a workout: meaning you’ll get stronger. Also think about consuming some protein – it will help prevent muscle breakdown. Look for a sports drink anywhere from a 3:1 to a 10:1 carb-to-protein ratio (often recovery drinks for endurance athletes are perfect to drink during a gym workout).

Target: 25-50g of carbs per hour (aerobic being at upper end) + protein (3-10g) Total 100-200 calories / hour

After Workout:

This is the most important time to eat properly. A mixture of carbs and protein is key. Carbs help protein build muscle, and refill the energy “gas tank” called glycogen. Look for a recovery shake with a mixture of fast + slow proteins and free amino acids, particularly BCAAs, which are the “building blocks of muscle.”

Depending on your size, consume about 20-40g of protein and 10-25g of carbs – 200-400 calories after workout.

General Nutrition:

Hydration: Athletes can easily lose >1L of sweat per hour and 1g of sodium. You’ll need to drink 1.5L of water for every 1L you lose unless you consume electrolytes that will facilitate the re-hydration process.

Vegetables: These are a great source of antioxidants and phytochemicals. They’re also rich in fiber, which means they’re filling and good as snacks so you’re not loading up on junk food during the day. Try to eat good, wholesome food every day. Include vegetables with every meal, and make it easy – cut them up Sunday night so it’s easy to grab and go during the week.

Healthy fats: These are known to fight inflammation and are linked to better overall health. Walnuts, almonds and other nuts (generally not peanuts) are great. Sprinkle some onto cereal in the morning or into a shake.

Soft Drinks: avoid soda at all costs.  The only time I might forgive a soda is if you just did a killer workout, you don’t have a good recovery shake with you and you can’t get to conventional food!

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