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Eating and exercise: 5 tips to maximize your workouts
Knowing when and what to eat can make a difference in how you feel during your workouts. Here are five tips on eating and exercise to guide you.By Mayo Clinic staff
Eating and exercise go hand in hand. When and what you eat can be important to how you feel when you exercise, whether it's a casual workout or a serious athletic competition.
Here are five tips for eating and exercise to help maximize your exercise and athletic performance. Just keep in mind that the duration and intensity of your activity will dictate how often and what you should eat and drink. Running a marathon demands more energy in the way of food than does walking two miles — but whatever your exercise, you'll benefit from paying attention to your meals and snacks.
1. Eat a healthy breakfast
If you exercise in the morning, get up early enough to eat breakfast — that may mean one to two hours before your workout. Most of the energy you got from dinner the previous night is used up by morning, and your blood sugar may be low. If you don't eat, you may feel sluggish or lightheaded when you exercise. If you plan to exercise within an hour after breakfast, eat a lighter breakfast or drink something to raise your blood sugar, such as a sports drink. Emphasize carbohydrates for maximum energy.
Good breakfast options include:
- Whole-grain cereals or bread
- Low-fat milk
If you're not a fan of eating in the morning before you work out, try a sports drink or have a bigger bedtime snack the night before. And remember, if you normally have coffee in the mornings, a cup or two before your workout is probably OK. Just don't try any foods or drinks for the first time before a workout, or you risk an upset stomach.
2. Size matters
Be careful not to overdo it when it comes to how much you eat before exercise. The general guideline:
- Large meals. Eat these at least three to four hours before exercising.
- Small meals. Eat these two to three hours before exercising.
- Small snacks. Eat these an hour before exercising.
Eating too much before you exercise can leave you feeling sluggish, or worse, with a case of diarrhea or stomach cramps. Eating too little may not give you the energy to keep you feeling strong throughout your workout.
3. Snack well
Most people can eat small snacks right before and during exercise. The key is how you feel. Do what works best for you. Snacks eaten soon before exercise probably won't give you added energy, but they can help keep up your blood sugar and prevent distracting hunger pangs. Good snack options include:
- Energy bars or drinks
- Bananas or other fresh fruit
- Fruit smoothies
- Whole-grain bagel or crackers with peanut butter
- Granola bars
A healthy snack is especially important if you plan a workout several hours after a meal.Next page
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