Planning Meal Times Before Exercise
When you’re on a weight-loss programme, you might think that skipping food ahead of your workout will help burn even more fats from those stubborn areas. However, engaging in this habit will only cause problems such as light-headedness and low blood sugar levels.
Why should I eat before workouts?
First of all, it is crucial to get enough nutrients in your body, which will help fuel you with the energy needed during intense exercise.
Meanwhile, according to research, your body burns the same levels of fats no matter the amount or lack of food you take in before exercise. But the downside is muscle loss can result if you constantly exercise with nothing filling your stomach. This is because your body slips into survival mode when you’re hungry and takes protein from muscles instead of from your liver and kidneys – the usual places it seeks protein from.
Your muscle mass then decreases, gradually slowing your metabolic rate and consequently making it more difficult for you to lose weight.
Timing is everything though – do not eat too early before a session as you might have burned the calories off by then, or too late as your body would not have sufficient time to digest and process the food. Two or three hours before your time at the gym or pool is a good lead for meal planning.
Another consideration is the amount of food you should consume. A small meal or snack of about 500 to 600 calories is recommended, especially if you intend to lose weight.
What kind of food should I eat?
There’s no hard and fast rule on what you can or cannot eat. But the basic guidelines are low fat, moderate amounts of carbohydrates and protein, low fibre and lots of fluids.
Your body depends on carb food such as breads, pasta and rice, and fruits and greens for quick energy. It also requires lean protein for muscles and blood cells, which help deliver nutrients and oxygen to your muscles. Fluids are also vital for your body to perform at its optimum level – water helps it cool down and not get dehydrated.
Ensure also that your body is used to the food you choose for these pre-workout meals to avoid bad reactions during and after working out.
Meals which give you sufficient energy while not being heavy include:
- Banana with two tablespoons of almond butter
- Grilled chicken sandwich
- Fruit cocktail, or fruit with nuts (about a quarter cup)
- Half a cup of oatmeal mixed with a cup of berries, with stevia or agave for sweetening
- Sweet potato with steamed broccoli in olive oil
- 10 multi-grain crackers with three tablespoons of hummus dip
Avoid fried food such as burgers and fries and sugary beverages such as soft drinks as they do not contain the nutrients you need. Following these guidelines on the best kinds of snacks and meals will help you gain more benefits from your exercise session and attain a better and healthier body.