If you do recreational sports—maybe you go to the gym, take dance or yoga classes, take day walks or long bike rides on the weekends—you may be wondering how to eat and hydrate while exercising. Here are the three questions I hear often and some of the answers.
Should I exercise on an empty stomach?
This depends on. If you’ve been exercising for less than an hour right after getting out of bed in the morning, you don’t necessarily need to eat anything first, especially if you’re moderately active—maybe do some yoga or go for a walk. However, if you are going to run, swim, take fitness classes or lift weights, it is a good idea to eat something first. Food is your body’s fuel: If you’re running empty, you’re less likely to get an active workout.
I’ll get into the “what to eat” part in a moment, but in terms of timing, drinking some water and eating a fist-sized portion of food about an hour before exercise provides your body with energy, but isn’t likely to upset your stomach during exercise. It is not a good idea to go several hours without eating and then try to exercise.
For vigorous exercise — or one that lasts more than an hour — eat something before and shortly after. If it’s time for a regular meal after a workout, it’s best to eat a lighter meal. If you exercise for many hours — such as for a day hike or a long bike ride — you’ll need extra food and water during your workout.
Do I need to eat certain foods?
Carbohydrates are the main fuel for muscle exercise. If you’re eating enough high-quality carbs throughout the day – whole grains, legumes (beans and lentils), fruits and vegetables – you don’t have to, for example, aim for X grams of carbs before/during/post-workout. Just giving your body some carbs and a little protein when it needs a pre-workout snack is okay.
You may want to try foods that make your stomach happy during different types of exercise, but good options include a granola bar, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, a fist-sized amount of mix nuts, oatmeal or yogurt with fruit and nuts, or a banana with peanut butter Or almond butter. A little fruit juice is another good option, especially if you find it hard to digest solid food first thing in the morning.
What about protein powders? We build muscle and get stronger Use our muscles and Eat enough protein As part of a balanced diet. This does not mean that extra protein is better. Most people can get enough protein from food alone.
Should I drink sports drinks?
Water is a great drink for most exercisersIt is best to get most of your calories and carbohydrates from food. However, you may benefit from a Sports drinks During long exercise or if you wear a salty jacket – you lose enough salt to sting your eyes and deposit a white grit on your skin and clothes.
According to the Institute of Medicine, adult females should drink nine 8-ounce cups (about 70 total ounces) of fluid per day, and adult males should drink 13 8-ounce cups (about 100 total ounces) of fluid per day. Drink water regularly during the day, then drink 20 ounces about an hour before you exercise. You may need more fluids during exercise, depending on how much you sweat. After your workout, drink more water or eat water-rich foods, such as juicy fruits.