When should I eat- before or after exercise?
When and what you eat prior to and after exercise depends largely upon what type of exercise you are doing, as well as your medical history. For instance, if you are a seventy-five year old woman with diabetes and want to take a morning walk, your food intake would differ than that of a thirty-five year old male with no known medical issues, who wants to play racquetball after work. That being said, there are some safe guidelines that everyone can benefit from—just keep in mind that these are suggestions and that each person is designed differently, so listen to your body.
Generally, you would want to eat a light meal one hour to two hours before your physical activity. If you are an athlete, once again, the rules would differ depending on your sport of choice (cycling or running for example), time of day (first thing in the morning or evenings), and overall physical exertion required (i.e. training for a 5K or a triathlon). I am going to narrow it down to the average person, or weekend warrior for this particular article.
If you are planning a long walk (or even a fast-paced, calorie torching walk), make sure that you eat something light enough that won’t overburden your performance, but with enough calories that you don’t run out of energy halfway through, either. Remember, you have been fasting throughout the night and need energy whenever you start your day—so don’t skip breakfast!
Some people have faster metabolisms than others and may require different food intakes; for instance, most people would be fine with eating some yogurt and fruit an hour to two hours before a walk. If you have a faster metabolism, however, then you may want to begin your walk thirty minutes to forty-five minutes after eating versus the hour or two mark, or simply add a little bit more calories to sustain you.
Now we know that we should definitely eat before a workout—this applies to morning, afternoon, and evening workouts as well. You have to give your body the proper fuel to complete the workout. We also need to replenish our lost glycogen storages after a workout as well. If you have an amazing workout and neglect to refuel afterwards, your workout might as well have been in vain. The recovery phase is equally as important, for that is where the body rebuilds and repairs.
If, for example, you had a workout with weights, you would want a combination of protein and carbohydrates for replenishment; this is essential for the growth (of the muscle) process. Just make sure that you are hydrated before, during, and after your workout, that you eat enough energy before your workout, and that you replenish your storages afterwards. If you have questions about how much of what macronutrients you need or simply seek additional guidance, feel free to email me at Crystal@PinkIslandFitness.com
Crystal Manjarres is the owner of One- On-One Fitness, a private personal training and Pilates studio for men and women on Marco Island. She is a certified personal trainer and Stott Pilates certified instructor. Her focus is “Empowering men and women of all shapes and sizes”. To send in a question, email Crystal@PinkIslandFitness.com. She can also be reached at www. PinkIslandFitness.com or www.101FIT. com and (239) 333-5771.