Fuel for Fitness

Marion Irvin, Dietetic Major ’19, University Health Center Nutrition Peer Educator

“What should I eat before I workout?”

“I don’t like eating before I workout.”

“Won’t eating before I exercise just upset my stomach?”

Have you ever had these questions or concerns when it comes to eating and exercising? If so, you are certainly not alone!

Research shows that eating something before your workout will give you the energy to work longer and harder. There are many myths floating around on the Internet that may lead you to believe that working out on an empty stomach is beneficial. However, if you work out on an empty stomach, you risk dizziness, headaches, and nausea.

Ideally, a pre-workout snack consists of carbohydrates with a small amount of protein and fat. The idea behind this is that carbohydrates will fuel your muscles with energy for your workout. By using carbohydrates for energy, you are sparing the body from using the protein in your muscles as an energy source. Therefore, you will maintain all of that muscle you are busy building!

Remember, when it comes to exercise and food every body is different. For some people, it really does upset their stomach to eat a heavy snack prior to working out, so portion sizes may be different depending on the person. If solid food is too much for your stomach to handle then try making a quick smoothie from frozen fruit, yogurt, and milk.

Fuel for Your Workout

If you have 2+ hours before your workout:

  • Small peanut butter & jelly sandwich on whole wheat bread with a fruit
  • Yogurt, 2 graham crackers, and a piece of fruit
  • Whole wheat toast with avocado and egg

If you have an hour or less:

  • A handful of trail mix and a glass of 100% juice
  • Apple wedges with a spoonful of peanut butter
  • Nutrient dense granola bar
    • Clif Bar, Luna Bar, Lara Bar, PowerBar

Try one of these snacks next time before you exercise. You will both avoid a rumbling stomach and maximize your time at the gym!

To learn more about what to eat before exercising, reserve your free session with a Nutrition Coach today by calling 301-314-5664 or [email protected]