Whether you’re exercising for fun, exercising to keep fit, or you’re an athlete, what you eat could make your next work out better. Food plays a part in our exercise routine.
Generally speaking, eating right helps us feel more energised, but when it comes to exercise the food we eat can contribute to a successful workout. So which foods should we avoid, which are best and at what point should we eat?
The best foods are quality carbohydrates, unsaturated fats, lean proteins and fluids. Experts agree that a few hours after our last meal, we should eat a small snack one hour before a workout to properly fuel our bodies. Comprising a combination of carbohydrates and a little protein all under 200 calories usually does the trick.
We must consume carbohydrates including cereals, rice, pasta, bread and vegetables for quick energy and protein for muscles and blood cells, which brings oxygen and nutrients to the muscles.
We also need fluids to hydrate the cells, allowing our body to perform at its best. There is no set pattern to what we can eat before a workout, but should choose to focus on health foods that include:
- Eating low fat;
- Eating foods lower in fibre;
- Moderate carbohydrates and protein;
- Eat foods we can tolerate;
- Include fluids.
Water acts as the body’s cooling system. It also acts as a barrier between exercise and injury. The less we drink, the more we expose ourselves to injury. The water we lose from heat and exercise will cause us to become dehydrated. If we exercise and we’re not hydrated enough, we will expose ourselves to injury.
In terms of exercise, it’s important to drink with a meal and then drink about 2 cups (16 ounces) of water 2 hours before exercise. If we’re exercising for more than an hour in hot humid conditions, then a sports drink is always preferable over water, but otherwise water is usually okay.
Sports drinks provide the body with carbohydrates and sodium as well as being rehydrating. Sports drinks are usually recommended for athletes who compete in competitive sports. When it comes to teams sports, again sports drinks should be consumed, particularly if they take place in hot and humid conditions.
Sports drinks are better for people who sweat a lot, because it’s more hydrating than water.