Timing food and drink to benefit your workouts

The timing of meals and drinks can make a big difference to your workout. Making smart choices can mean more energy and strength, and can help you avoid dehydration, indigestion and sluggish energy.

You’re the expert when it comes to knowing how you feel after big meals or going several hours without food—so take that knowledge to the gym. If you feel sluggish after eating a large meal, make sure you time your workout for three or four hours later; this can help prevent digestive troubles, cramping and slow reaction time.

However, you may find that not eating a snack before a workout brings similar results—feeling tired, slow to react or weak. Low blood sugar levels can produce these effects, so for most people it feels better to either eat a snack right before and during a workout or eat a smaller meal two to three hours before you work out.

Some general points to keep in mind are:

-Have breakfast- it’s important to fuel your body in the morning because most of the energy you got from the food you ate the night before is probably gone. Have a healthy meal but if you’re working out within an hour of finishing your breakfast, make it a small meal. If you’d prefer to eat breakfast after working out, grab a sports drink or something that will get your blood sugar up like a piece of fruit.

-Eat something after your workout- have a meal that contains both carbohydrates and protein to help your muscles recover. Carbohydrates are stored primarily in your muscles and liver as glycogen, which is needed for energy; diets containing at least 50 percent of calories from carbs will help your body store glycogen. Protein is key for muscle repair and growth.

-Stay hydrated- in addition to helping replace lost fluid, drinking water is important to your body because it helps your blood remove waste from cells and carry nutrients to them. Also, your body doesn’t just lose fluid, your body also loses electrolytes during exercise, so you’ll want to make sure you are getting enough electrolytes in your diet and drink water to help get them moving through your system before, during and after your workout. You may want to take in a sports drink that has electrolytes if you are exercising for more than an hour.

Remember to listen to your body—if any of the tips above don’t agree with your system, skip them and do what feels the best for you.

Disclaimer

The views and opinions expressed in this article or blog are strictly those of the author. The contents of this article or blog and any reference herein to any specific commercial product, process, or service whether by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise, does not constitute or imply its endorsement or recommendation by ISI Brands and ISI Brands assumes no legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information, product, service or process disclosed or referenced herein. All information is provided on an as-is basis and is provide for information purposes only. Always consult your physician before beginning any diet or exercise program.