Sports Sense 101: Fueling Before Exercise

 By Chloe Hall, MS, RD, LDN

 

“DOES WHAT I EAT BEFORE A WORKOUT REALLY MATTER??”

 

YES!

If you want your body to run like a well-oiled machine, you have to give it the right type of fuel!  This means choosing something to eat and drink that will give your muscles the energy they need without weighing you down (or giving you tummy troubles.)  Here are a few important factors to consider pre-workout:

  • How much time do I have before my workout?
  • How long will I be exercising?
  • What type of exercise do I plan on doing (how intense will it be)?

These three factors all play a role in the type and amount of fuel your body will need. 

For exercise that is shorter in duration (<60 minutes) or low-to-moderate intensity, a small snack, rich in carbohydrates is the best choice. This is also what you may want to consume if you only have a short time before your workout starts. Eating high-fat or high-fiber foods right before exercise could lead to an upset stomach once you start moving. Some go-to carbohydrate-rich snacks include a small banana, whole-wheat crackers, or granola bar.

For a longer duration of exercise (>60 minutes) and/or more intense activity, make sure to have a more substantial snack or “mini-meal” about 3 hours beforehand and a small serving of carbohydrates within the hour before. Your “mini-meal” should contain carbohydrates and protein to keep you feeling energized and focused for longer. Some examples include a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, pasta with a small serving of chicken, baked potato with cheese or sports bar.

 

WHY CARBS?

Your body digestions fat, protein, and carbohydrates differently. Carbohydrates (such as fruit, grains, and starchy vegetables) are broken down and used as energy faster than protein and fat. When you exercise, your body depletes your energy stores and carbohydrates replenish them quickly.


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Chloe practices a weight-neutral approach to helping clients meet their nutrition and health goals. She believes that overall wellness stems from a combination of balanced nutrition, physical activity and positive self-image. She specializes in sports nutrition and enjoys working with individuals and teams to maximize performance.