Working out without eating any food beforehand is like driving your car with the hand on the gas gauge hovering over that red ‘E’. Overeating before you workout is like driving your car with a trunk full of bricks. In both situations you will be able to drive your car, but with low fuel you won’t make it very far, and with a trunk full of bricks your car will be dragging. This same idea applies to working out. If you don’t eat before your workout you will not be able to push as much in your workout but if you overeat before you workout you will likely feel sluggish during your workout.
So what is the key to finding that happy medium for your pre-workout meal or snack? First, make sure the foods you consume are easily digestible, and secondly, make sure you give your body enough time to digest those foods. Eating easily digestible carbohydrates about 1-2 hours before your workout is the best way to fuel your body without feeling sluggish.
Examples of these easily digestible foods include: whole grain cereals (you can pair it with low-fat milk or a milk alternative), whole-wheat toast, brown rice, low-fat yogurt, fruits and veggies. Avoid eating saturated fats like full-fat dairy, cheese or fatty red meats before your workout as these foods are harder to digest and will leave you feeling bogged down. Also, avoid loading up on protein before you workout, even if it is a lean protein. Protein is slow to digest as well. Save all that healthy protein for your post-workout meal.
1-2 hours is the ideal time frame for eating your pre-workout meal. If you are an early morning grinder, don’t avoid eating before your workout, even if you don’t have a full hour between the time you wake up and the time you start your workout. Have a serving of fruit before you start your workout. The sugars from the fruit digest easily and will give you the energy you need to get through your workout.
Bottom line: No matter what time of day you workout, make sure you eat a simple, easy to digest meal 1-2 hours before you power through your workout.
Here are some pre-workout snack ideas to try before your next sweat session.
Early Morning Workout:
- ½ cup oatmeal + ½ cup berries
- basic oatmeal recipe
- 1 serving low-fat Greek Yogurt + ¼ cup Granola
- ½ cup rice + steamed veggies