While some people hope to lose more weight by fasting before exercise, it usually is not a good idea. Most people can agree that eating before a workout is a necessity. Without fuel, your body won't have the nutrients you need to exercise at your best level, or possibly even complete the entire workout. When you feel dizzy, lethargic, and short-winded, you are more likely to trip, miss a step, or get injured. Even worse, if your blood sugar drops low enough, you could faint.
While your body definitely needs some fuel to energize your workout, it is important not to use exercise as an excuse to overeat. In fact, if you are properly hydrated, and have consumed a meal within the last two to three hours, it's usually fine to go straight to your workout without an extra snack. If you exercise before breakfast or directly after work, you should probably grab a healthy snack 20 to 30 minutes before you hit the gym.
In order to get your optimal workout, you need carbohydrates for energy and protein to build muscle. However, you don't need a heavy meal sloshing around in your stomach when you are running on the treadmill. To find the balance, choose a snack with easily digestible carbs and just the right amount of protein for your level of activity. These snacks provide a combination of healthy carbs and protein for maximum energy and results.
A smoothie made from a cup of fruit, milk, and plain yogurt can make a sweet snack or mini-breakfast with the right ingredients to fuel your workout. Fruit provides essential carbs, while yogurt and milk add protein and calcium.
A serving of Greek yogurt contains both carbs and protein. You can even add some fruit and granola for a healthy breakfast option.
Many are asking, are protein bars good for you? It's a heated debate and for good reason. Some protein bars pack the same amount of health benefits and empty calories as a candy bar. However, some protein bars pack the right nutrients for a healthy workout. When choosing the right protein bar, inspect the label. While some bars claim an abundance of vitamins and minerals, it's best to choose one that is high in protein and healthy carbs while low in sugar.
Rice cakes contain easily digestible carbs. They are also non-filling to make jumping into your workout easier. Nut butter provides protein essential for muscle building and repair.
A banana offers quickly digestible carbs with the addition of other healthy nutrients and the convenience of a grab-and-go solution. The sugars in bananas are similar to those found in sports drinks. Bananas also contain vitamin C and potassium. The consumption of fruit also improves post-workout recovery.
Easy to carry to work or the gym, a few ounces of nuts and dried fruit offers the perfect amount of nutrition to fuel your workout. Choose a variety to create your own trail mix and use sandwich bags to dole out daily portions.
If you exercise in the morning, a serving of oatmeal will keep you full and energized while you sweat. Add a handful of your favorite berries for extra carbs and antioxidants.
When you make your own workout snack, you know exactly what goes into it. No-bake recipes usually include nut butter, protein powder, oats, and dried fruit or dark chocolate chips. The ability to choose a variety of add-ins creates a snack you never tire of.
If your workout fits neatly within 2 to 3 hours of your most recent meal, you might prefer to skip a workout snack. For the best amount of energy and stamina, choose a healthy meal to fuel your workout. You still want to include carbs and protein, but healthy fats are also allowed during a balanced meal.
No matter what type of food you choose, it is vital to stay hydrated during your workout. Dehydration can cause low energy, muscle cramps, and headaches. Drinking water throughout the day can keep you hydrated for your workout. An additional cup 10 to 20 minutes before you hit the gym will keep your energy up and give you the fluids you need to power through. If you participate in a long workout with intense physical activity, hydrate during exercise as well.
It's important to remember that no one food works for everyone. As you choose the right snack to energize your workouts, pay attention to how you feel immediately after eating, while working out, and later in the day. Everyone metabolizes food differently and the way you feel should be the biggest factor in your choice. Change up your snacks every few days to decide if you are in a rut or could be making an improvement.