172023 tn?1334672284

Eating and working out.

Its a hot topic amongst dieters.  What to eat before you work out, IF you should eat before you work out, what should you eat after, and how much should you eat?

There are a couple schools of thoughts on this.  One camp holds that you should not eat prior to exercising heavily, that it diverts some of the much needed blood flow from your muscles and takes it to the stomach, to aid in the digestive process.  This camp claims that when they eat prior to exercise, they get stomach cramps or feel sluggish.

The other school of thought (which I agree with) suggests that you  have a light meal or snack prior to a work out, and a small snack afterwards.  

The reason I agree with the second school of thought is simply that your muscles need glucose to do their work.  That's an irrefutable fact.  The food you eat is converted to glucose, which your body can use for energy.  Without it, your muscles will fatigue more rapidly.  Some people can tolerate this muscle fatigue better than others, but it still occurs.  Feed your muscles.  They need it, poor things.

What should you eat, and when should you eat it?

Again, people differ on this.  But you don't need a lot of food.  This is a common pitfall of the chronic dieter and beginning exerciser.  We get a diety mentality.  We think "Exercise = lose weight.  Lose weight = I can have more food on exercise days".  For the most part, not true.  

The purpose of exercise should NOT be about losing weight.  Its essential to our bodies that we exercise to maintain our cardiovascular health, first and foremost.  There are other reasons to exercise, great reasons,  but simply to exercise thinking "Oh, I'll lose weight" should be erased from your mind.  Do it to feel better, not to get into a smaller size pair of jeans.

Anyway, what I recommend you eat is some form of protein, and some form of complex carb prior to exercising, about 1/2 hour before your  workout or walk...whatever you have chosen to do.
This provides some quick, easily usable energy for your workout, and the protein provides a bit of "oomph" during and after your workout.
Some things you can eat:  1 egg, scrambled and a slice of low cal, whole wheat toast.   A half a whole wheat bagel and low fat cream cheese, a slice of cooked lean meat on a slice of whole wheat bread, or mixed with 1/2 cup brown rice or other whole grain, etc.  You get the idea.

Afterwards, resist the temptation to reward yourself with a stop by Baskin Robbins for an ice cream, thinking "I worked it off".  Again...that's a dieter mentality.  You only need about 100 cals worth of what I call a "recovery" food, something to ward off a blood sugar crash that sometimes follows a vigorous workout.  100 calories worth of a snack is not much.  I'm not terribly particular about what I eat after a work out, but I do religiously stick to the 100 cal rule.  Usually, I'll have a protein or granola bar, or swing by Starbucks for a Skinny Latte, or something of that nature.  

Happy exercise!  Remember, its about getting healthy, NOT getting skinny!  The skinny part is just a side benefit.  Feed your muscles.  They'll thank you for it.
3 Responses
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397560 tn?1220022177
Thank you for the great suggestion! I always did it and you confirm it!
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193609 tn?1292180293
Thanks for the advice!!!
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173939 tn?1333217850
Very true. I tried both ways before and after kickboxing classes or jogging. A heavy meal before exercise makes you feel like you are dragging your whole kitchen in your stomach and zero food intake makes you feel like a miserable puppet on a string.

Due to work I only exercise vigorously about 3 months out of the year and I love the balancing effect it has. During that time I crave mostly healthy foods and usually only when truly hungry. Then again, it only takes a week or two of being strapped to a computer and the whole body becomes a stagnant blop, mentally active, otherwise pathetic. Thanks for the reminder of the benefits of exercise!
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