What you eat before, during and after exercise can greatly affect your ability to lose weight and burn calories.
For instance, when it comes to preparing for exercise, most experts will tell you to opt for easily digestible carbohydrates as not only can they prevent you from feeling hungry whilst you exercise, but they can also stop your energy levels from depleting too quickly.
Why should I eat easily digestible carbohydrates?
Whilst fats and proteins can provide your body with fuel, generally your main source for fuel is carbohydrates which become stored in your muscles as glycogen.
Now it can take quite awhile to fill your glycogen stores, which is why when it comes to preparing for exercise the types of foods you eat should be based on increasing your intensity and stamina as well as suit the type of workout you plan to do.
When should I eat?
You should never eat immediately before you plan to workout as this food will remain in your stomach the entire time you are exercising and unsurprisingly can trigger stomach ache, nausea and even cramping.
To minimise this discomfort, but ensure you have got plenty of energy to exercise, you should allow enough time for your food to digest, somewhere between 1-4 hours (this will be affected by what and how much you have eaten).
But what if I want to exercise in the morning?
A lot of weight loss management plans will tell you to exercise before you go to work to minimise the risk of you opting out. Now before you panic and wonder ‘when can I eat’, it is still possible to exercise in the morning, even when you are giving your stomach time to settle.
You will simply need to do one of the following:
Either, try to get up early enough to give your stomach at least 1 hour to digest your food, or alternatively opt for an easy to digest food or drink i.e. an energy bar, and eat it 20-30 minutes before you exercise.
NOTE: if you are struggling to find time to eat and exercise, adopt this approach – the closer you get to a workout, the less you should eat.
What foods can I eat?
Remember how I mentioned that you should only eat carbohydrates which are easy to digest? These foods are pretty easy to find, as they are contained in pasta, fruits, breads, energy bars and drinks.
Take these for example:
- Pasta – wholegrain is best
- Fruits – apples, watermelon, peaches, grapes, oranges
- Vegetables – green leafy vegetables
- Breads – bagels, wholegrain
Similarly, it is important that you are aware of which foods will hinder your workout. These include: meats, doughnuts, chips and chocolate bars.