Ample energy and a steady stomach are two keys to a great workout. But people often skip pre-exercise meals due to lack of time or not knowing what to eat, says Manuel Villacorta, registered dietitian and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. No more excuses: These tummy-friendly options have ideal amounts of carbs and protein to keep you fueled, and they're easy to prepare on-the-fly.
Ready to sweat? Not so fast! Here, the best foods to eat before and after a workout so can fuel up the right way. Munch on these for your best sweat session yet.
Before: Whole Wheat Toast with Sliced Banana and Cinnamon
When it comes to gearing up for workout, carbs are your gym BFF. The key is to have a mixed bag of complex and simple ones so that the release of energy during your workout is slow and steady throughout your routine. Whole-wheat toast with fruit gives you both types of carbs with the bonus of being super easy to digest. Complex carbs will keep your motor humming, while the fruit adds an extra kick of energy. For those training for a race, bananas are perfect in raising potassium levels, which drop when you sweat a lot. For an added bonus, add a dash of cinnamon. The spice has been linked to stabilizing blood …
Even the best foods can come back to haunt you mid-workout if not allowed to properly digest, so it's best to eat 45 minutes to an hour before you work out—longer after heavy meals, Villacorta says. While certain foods settle well and hit the bloodstream quickly, exercising on a full stomach can still make you feel sluggish. Worse, it can cause stomach cramps, because exercise pulls blood away from stomach to the muscles, he explains. If you can't wait more than 45 minutes between meal and workout, it's better to have a small snack than exercise on an empty stomach, Villacorta says. Have an easily digestible, simple-carb snack like yogurt or fruit, and eat a full meal after exercising.
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