It is vital to have some food and fluid before exercising but it needs to be planned carefully. If the consumption is too much, it can lead to cramps and nausea. Also, the feeling of a full stomach during exercise can be quite distracting. So, it is necessary that a bit of time is given to digest the food.
An ideal pre-exercise diet plan starts about 2 hours prior to the workout. A light meal that consists of baked potato/cottage cheese, bagel, peanut butter sandwich or a bowl of cereal could be a good idea. These foods are high in complex carbohydrates and protein, which are good for workouts. For people who cannot handle dip in blood glucose during workouts, a last-minute simple sugar food is recommended, a fruit juice is ideal.
Early morning pre-workout diet
Most people prefer exercising in the morning before they get ready for work. Such people must eat something to avoid feeling dizzy and drained out during workouts. If you have to rush to your office early, wake up an hour before your scheduled exercise and eat around 200 to 300 calories. Make sure that you do not include foods with too much proteins or fat as these are hard to digest.
Bananas, sports drinks, raisins, whole grain bagels are good. You could even eat a granola bar with a bit of peanut butter about 30 minutes before you start exercising. You might be wrongly thinking that peanut butter is fattening but mono-saturated fats are good for you. They give you a sensation of being full and help in weight loss.
Lunchtime pre-workout diet
You may be a person who routinely has to attend to work early in the morning, which leaves you no time for workout. If afternoon is your ideal time, you would still need to eat something before exercising. This is mainly because by this time, the breakfast you had in the morning would have been completely digested leaving you hungry again. The best foods would be meal replacement bars or shakes, fresh or dried fruits, yogurt, or a bowl of oatmeal.
People are usually hungry after the day’s work in the evening. If you are driving towards the gym and invariably stopping at Burger King every time postponing your workout, you are not alone. Plan your diet carefully if you are working out in the evening. About two to three hours prior to leaving work, eat a balanced meal. You could eat a fruit, whole grain muffin, cheese and crackers, or cottage cheese with vegetables. You will see that you will feel energetic and not hungry with these foods and surely go straight to the gym without any deviations.
Food requirements for workout
The food requirements vary depending on the intensity of workout you involve in. Below is the general nutritional need of your body.
Calories: If you want to maintain your weight, consume 17 to 20 calories per pound (of your body weight). If you want to lose weight, consume 16 to 17 calories per pound.
Protein, carbohydrates and fat: You can consume between 0.5 to 0.6 grams of proteins per pound. You would need 3 to 5 grams of carbohydrates per pound for normal workouts and even more for high-intensity exercises. About 0.5 grams of fat per pound is ideal.
Caffeine, electrolytes, and fluids: It is a myth that caffeine is good before exercising. It is a diuretic that actually dehydrates you, which can cause headaches, tremors and nausea. Electrolytes mainly contain potassium and sodium, which are salts that carry an electrical charge. Your cells rely on these charges to carry impulses to nerves and muscles.
The food that you consume contains enough electrolytes that you need. But, if you plan on intense exercise over an extended time, you can use electrolyte replacement, especially if you are planning long-distance running. In general, you would need about 32 ounces of fluid for every 1000 calories you consume and another 60 to 150 ounces depending on the intensity of your workout.