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Best Time to Eat When Working Out

written by: Nichole Bolton • edited by: lrohner • updated: 7/6/2011

When following a fitness regime, it is important to eat enough throughout the day to provide the body with energy. Knowing when to eat when working out is important, as it can ensure the best possible workout and faster results.

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    Before the Workout

    Know When to Eat When Working Out, Image Credit: rougenoirphoto There are benefits to eating before and after a workout, as it helps to keep the body functioning properly and allows for the best possible workout. About half an hour to an hour before exercising, it is best to have a light snack that contains healthy carbohydrates. Healthy carbs would be whole grains, fruits and vegetables. A good pre-workout snack would be a light salad with chopped vegetables and minimal or low-fat dressing.

    It is important to avoid simple carbs such as sugary sweets pre-workout, as they can lead to a crash in energy mid-workout. It is important that this snack is light, as too much food will cause fatigue while trying to exercise. Water should be consumed with the pre-workout meal, to keep the body hydrated. The pre-workout meal will help to provide energy during exercise, allowing for the best possible workout and results.

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    During the Workout

    Food should be avoiding during exercise to avoid abdominal cramping and fatigue, but water should be consumed throughout the entire workout. If fatigue is experienced while exercising, a sports drink can be used to rehydrate the body and provide a boost in energy. A sports drink typically contains flavored water and electrolytes, with some also containing added vitamins and minerals. It is important that the sports drink contains a minimal amount of carbohydrates, otherwise it could lead to stomach cramping.

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    After the Workout

    The post-workout meal is considered to be the most important meal when exercising, as it restores the body's energy levels and helps to support the body's muscles as they recover. Within the first half-hour after exercising, a snack that is high in carbohydrates should be consumed to restore the glycogen levels in the muscles. Protein can be consumed with carbohydrates at this snack, or they can be consumed within the hour after finishing a workout. Protein is essential in muscle growth and strengthening. An example of a post-workout snack would be a glass of milk with salad leaves, fruit and boneless, skinless chicken breast.

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    Eating before and after a workout helps to ensure that there is energy for the workout and nutrients to help repair the body after the workout. A small snack consisting of complex carbs is sufficient before exercising, while a meal consisting of protein and carbs can be consumed after. Water must be consumed before, during and after exercising to prevent dehydration from the fluid lost through sweating. As long as these guidelines on when to eat when working out are followed, it will be possible to perform a period of exercise with high energy and endurance levels.

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    References

    MayoClinic: Five Tips to Maximise your Workout - http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/exercise/HQ00594_D/NSECTIONGROUP=2

    Ask Men: What to Eat and Drink Before and After Workouts - http://ca.askmen.com/sports/foodcourt_60/94_eating_well.html

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    Photo Credit

    Image courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/rougenoirphoto/4571471161/.