Wednesday, January 23, 2013

When to eat before working out? Timing tips from Nutrition Coaching Center

I've been asked many times by clients about not only 'what' to eat before a workout, but also 'when' to eat.  Getting the right timing down can not only improve energy for your work out, but also insure that your gastrointestinal tract isn't working too hard when working out.

Although everyone is unique, I often advice clients to have a meal about three to four hours or more before a workout to avoid possible stomach distress and maximize fuel availability.  Then consider having a a snack if needed about 1 to 1.5 hours prior to exercising (ex. a 1/2 to 1 banana or other fruit, or 1/2 to 1 energy bar).  The moderate snack should leave your stomach prior to exercising, helping you feel ready for your workout without feeling too full or overall hungry.  

What if you have lunch at noon, but don't workout until after work about 6 or 7pm?  Consider having an afternoon snack about 3:30-4pm and than another about an hour or more before your workout.  

Since everyone is different, the size of the snack (1/2 banana versus whole) and exact timing (1 hour vs. 1.5 hours) prior to exercise will vary.  Your rate of digestion, your body size and the type of workout you perform, will effect when and how much food you can tolerate.  

What do I suggest if working out in the morning?  If you workout soon after waking up, you may not need a snack to exercise.  That being said, some individuals feel more energized having something light prior to exercising.  It also depends on the type of exercise.  If you run, for example, your stomach will need to be completely empty whereas with resistance training it's less important.

Note: For individuals with medical conditions such as diabetes and those taking medications that affect blood sugar, an individualized approach is very important.  Food needs to be timed and medication possibly adjusted to assure blood sugar does not drop too low (which can potentially be dangerous).  Please speak with your healthcare provider and consider consulting a Registered Dietitian for more specific guidance.   

Whatever your fitness endeavor, timing your food appropriately to fuel your workouts can help maximize results to help you be at your best!

Yours in Great Health!
Kevin Grodnitzky, MS, RD, CDE, LDN
Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist
Certified Personal Trainer
Nutrition Coaching Center