The basics of a healthy diet also apply to sports nutrition. This means it’s important to eat a balanced diet made up of wholegrains, healthy fats, and lean proteins. It’s also essential to get a wide range of brightly coloured vegetables and fruits. This is good for both your general health and your immune function.
Below are specific considerations when eating or drinking before, during, and after exercise.
What to eat before exercise
Before you start exercising its good to prepare your body with the fuel it needs. Carbohydrates provide you with glucose – your body’s main energy source. Having carbohydrates before exercise can also increase your glycogen stores. This means any excess glucose is stored in your muscles and liver, ready to be used during exercise.
Including some protein in your pre-exercise snack is also useful. This is because it can aid your muscle recovery once you have finished exercising. Ideally you want to keep your fat and fibre intake low before exercise. Foods with high fat and fibre are harder to digest which can cause discomfort when you are active.
Eating around 30 minutes to an hour before exercising is ideal. This is because it will give you a good source of fuel, whilst also giving you time to digest.
A few ideas for pre work out snacks include:
- a fruit smoothie with low fat milk
- oatcakes with cottage cheese
- rice cakes with chopped bananas
Aiming to be hydrated before you start exercising is a good idea. This is because it will help your body to perform better. It will also mean you don’t need to drink huge amounts during exercise, which can also cause digestive issues. Make sure to drink steadily during the hours before you exercise rather than drinking a lot just before you start.
Water, fruit juice, teas and coffees all count towards your hydration needs. There is also some evidence that having a small amount of caffeine before exercise can improve your performance.