Eating and exercising go hand in hand!
Depending on what and how you eat, you can maximize the effects of your exercises. In this respect, we’ve compiled a list of 10 tips for eating and exercising:
1. Don’t exercise on an empty stomach
The first eating and exercising tip in our list. It is a common misconception that it is better not to eat anything before exercising as this will cause you nausea and cramps. While it is recommended that you don’t stuff yourself right before exercising, you do need energy in order to fuel your activities. The ideal situation would be to consume as much energy as you take in, thus keeping everything in balance.
Also, note that exercising on an empty stomach does not burn excess fat more quickly; it may just force your body to start using proteins as fuel and cause muscle atrophy.
2. Don’t skip meals
Skipping meals, especially breakfast, may cause low blood sugar. When you wake up, most of the energy you got from dinner is gone, so exercising before taking breakfast may cause problems mentioned in the tip above. If you want to exercise in the morning, you can eat a smaller breakfast packed with nutrients and energy.
3. Know when to eat
This is another important tip for eating and exercising. In order to reduce any stomach discomfort during your activity, it is better to let the food to fully digest before exercising. Depending on the person and the size of the meal they had, the time needed could vary between half an hour (a liquid meal or a small snack) and more than four hours (high fat food).
4. Plan your meals and exercises
As suggested by the above tips, planning your meals and exercises is extremely important. Plan your day in advance, think about the type of exercise you will do, how much effort it requires and eat a proper meal for it, taking into consideration the time needed to digest it.
5. Know your energy sources
Carbohydrates are the fuel that keeps the body running. Eating foods high in carbohydrates and low in fat will improve your performance. Good carbohydrate sources include vegetables, baked potatoes, bread, cereal, fruits, pasta, rice.
Protein is not the best choice in providing energy for the body, but they do have an important role in developing and repairing your muscles. Good protein sources are: chicken, salmon and tuna, yogurt, cheese, milk, eggs.
Fat takes more to digest so it is better to avoid it before exercising. However, you shouldn’t exclude it from your diet. Taken in smaller amounts, vegetable oils, nuts or fatty fish that provide the body with unsaturated fats that are good for your exercises.
6. Drink plenty of water
This is one of the most important tips related to eating and exercising.Water is essential for the body. While making physical effort, your body produces heat that is eliminated through perspiration. While perspiring, you lose water and electrolytes like potassium, calcium, sodium and chloride.
In order to stay well hydrated during your exercises, you need to replace the fluids lost. In most cases, water is the best fluid to dink when exercising. It is recommended that you drink about 2 cups (0.5 liters) or a bit more 2 or 3 hours before your exercise. You should also drink water during and after your exercises.
However, if you are a pro athlete and the amount of effort you put in your exercises is considerably high, you should try a sports drink that will also replace the electrolytes that you lose.
7. Avoid some foods
Avoid fatty food like fries, fat-rich meats, potato chips, doughnuts and candy bars right before exercising as they will take more to digest and may cause you discomfort. You should also avoid caffeine as it only helps by acting as a stimulant to the nervous system but may have serious side effects and cause dehydration.
Stay away from sweets as well. They will cause a sudden rise in insulin resulting in a drop in blood sugar levels.
8. What to eat before exercising
9. What to eat while exercising
It’s not recommended to consume food during exercises. If you need extra fuel, you can have an energy bar, some fruit juice or sports drink. Most importantly, don’t forget to hydrate yourself by drinking plenty of water. You can avoid the unwanted muscle cramps if you just drink a mouthful of water every 10 or 15 minutes.
10. What to eat after exercising
Another important tip for eating and exercising is to know what to eat after exercising. Don’t eat a heavy meal during the first hour preceding your exercises. If you’ve made considerable effort, you can have a nutritious snack with carbohydrates and protein after your exercise: nonfat yogurt or ice-cream, apples with low-fat cheese or two whole bread sandwiches with thin slices of turkey.