A topic that comes with a large range of opinions. Let me add my 2-cents!
Many believe that eating before exercise leads to blood sugar spikes followed by a blood sugar drop that could impact your performance. Some people do have a hard time exercising without eating something first. There’s research that shows that eating before a workout doesn’t necessarily impact performance. That said, there is plenty of research that strongly supports skipping eating before exercise, especially if you’re interested in maximizing your fat-burning potential. This is not a myth.
I know from personal experience that eating certain foods before my workout makes my tummy feel terrible, I’ll spend almost the entire time thinking about how awful I feel. I also know that having a little something beforehand helps me think I’m fueled enough to really put in a really great effort.
In determining the best plan for you, we need the answers to 3 important questions:
- what is your primary goal with exercise — to improve overall health, lose weight, gain muscle?
- how does your tummy feel exercising with versus without eating?
- what timeframe do you have for nutrition before your work out?
At the end of the day, you know your body the best what foods give you the best workout. Though, if your eating something before exercise, putting in a super duper effort and still not seeing the results, the answer becomes very simple… whatever you’re eating beforehand isn’t working for you and there needs to be a change.
As a starting point, my recommended and personal approach to pre-workout nutrition is as follows… if you have:
- less than 15 minutes before you exercise… aim for ¼ cup of organic apple sauce, or ½ cup of a non-acidic juice, my favs include white grape, pomegranate or apple juice
- about ½ hour before you exercise… enjoy a piece of fruit, few ounces of dried fruit, small homemade fruit bowl or a couple of teaspoons of high-quality coconut oil
- an hour before you exercise… lean more towards a small serving (think just a few ounces) of a starchy carb such as granola, oatmeal, quinoa, or whole grain crackers, bread, pasta
- 2 or more hours before you exercise… eat a healthy, well-balanced meal that includes a lovely protein, healthy fat, veggies and a little starch; that’s all you should need before you lace up your shoes!
Pre-exercise nutrition is different for everyone. It will take some trial and effort to find the perfect fit. First and foremost you have to feel calm and peaceful in the stomach as well as to know you have enough fuel (consumed, or stored) for your workout.