Knowing when and what to eat can make a difference in your workouts, and what you should do is understand the connection between diet and physical exercise. 

Food and exercise go hand in hand When and what you eat determines how you feel when you work out, be it every day or competition training. Here are five tips for you to follow when you work out:

Eat a healthy breakfast

If you work out in the morning, wake up early enough to finish breakfast at least one hour before exercising. Studies suggest that if you consume carbohydrates, as both food or drink, before you exercise, this can improve your training performance and can allow you to work out for a longer amount of time, or at a higher pace. If you skip breakfast, you might feel slow or slightly dizzy when you work out. 

However, if you don't have enough time to digest breakfast, choose something light or just an energy drink which is rich in carbs, for some extra energy.

Breakfast options include:

  • Wholegrain cereals or bread
  • Skimmed milk
  • Fruit or vegetable juice
  • bananas
  • yoghurt
  • pancakes

A portion's size before workout

Be careful about over-eating before working out

  • Large portions. Eat a large portion of food at least three or four hours before working out.
  • Small portions or snacks. Eat a small portion of food about one to three hours before working out.

Eating too much before working out can make you feel slower. To little food may not offer you the energy you need in order to keep your strength during the entire workout. Find the balance and choose your meals' proportions. 

Snacking during and before workouts

Most people can eat small snacks even before and during workouts. The key lies in discovering how you feel and choosing what is best for your body. Snacks eaten a short while before working out might not offer you extra energy if your training lasts for less than 60 minutes, but can stop you from feeling hungry. If your training is longer than 60 minutes, you can start by including one snack or one carb-rich drink during your workout. Good snack options include: 

  • energy bar
  • a banana, an apple, or other fresh fruit
  • yoghurt
  • a fruit smoothie
  • a low-fat granola bar
  • a peanut butter sandwich
  • Energy drink or diluted juice

A healthy snack is particularly important if you plan your workout a few hours after eating.

Eat after working out

In order to help your muscles recover and replace their glycogen deposits, go for a meal that is rich in both carbs and proteins, two hours after your workout, if possible. Best food options after working out include:

  • Yoghurt and fruit
  • a peanut butter sandwich
  • Low-fat milk chocolate and a pretzel
  • Post-training recovering smoothie
  • Turkey, wholegrain bread and vegetables

Hydration and physical exercises 

Don't forget to drink enough liquids You need the right liquids before, during, and after working out, in order to prevent dehydration. In order to stay well-hydrated during workouts, the American College of Sports Medicine advises the following:

  • Drink approximately 2 to 3 cups of water (473 to 710 ml) during two to three hours before training.
  • Drink approximately half a cup to one cup of water (118 - 237 ml) every 15 to 20 minutes during workout. Adjust the amounts according to your body weight and the weather.
  • Drink approximately 2 to 3 cups of water (473 to 710 ml) of water after training, to rehydrate.

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Text: Diana Ungureanu