Whether working out is your nemesis, your release, or your everyday passion, fueling your body with the right food at the right time is key. I will emphasize right away, however, that the greatest teacher is your own body–listen to how your body feels and performs when you fuel it in different ways. Here are a few tips for when you are exercising for short or long periods of time!
Exercise that lasts over an hour
Endurance exercise requires a lot of fuel, which your body grabs from carbohydrates that have been stored in your cells. So, in order to give yourself sufficient energy to power through your workout, make sure you are eating a full meal of protein, carbohydrates, and greens, 3-4 hours before you workout. If you are feeling hungry right before your workout, it is a good idea to snack on something light like granola or a banana.
Afterward, you need to refuel your body relatively soon if you want to reap the
maximum benefits of your workout. Some combo of protein and carbs will be the most important food for your recovery. Ideas include toast with hummus and avocado, eggs with toast and fruit, or a banana with peanut butter.
Exercise that lasts under an hour
According to Healthline, there is only a small amount of research regarding the pros and cons of fasted vs. fed HIIT workouts. Essentially, there is no hard and fast proof that one is better than the other–this is where listening to your body is crucial. Since you are able to store a significant amount of calories, it is not as vital that you feed your body before a short workout. So, if you don’t feel like eating before it, you don’t have to–it likely will not impact your performance.
However, refueling your body after a short workout is equally as important as after a long training session. Having a meal relatively soon after will aid muscle recovery and restore your body’s calorie deficit. Generally, the less you eat before your workout, the sooner you should eat afterward–but once again, how your body feels is the ultimate determinant of when and how much you need to eat.
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