When and What to Eat Before Exercise

Maruchy Lachance is president of Running Ninja!, a lifestyle brand for runners by runners. Running Ninja! offers a wide variety of apparel and gifts for runners to keep you happy and inspired while you’re on the run.

This is a question that still puzzles me. I exercise in the mornings and usually I just go for a run or exercise on an empty stomach. Most experts warn against this practice but for reasons I cannot explain it works for me. The only time I really worry about what to eat before exercising is prior to a race. Sometimes a slice of whole grain bread with peanut butter is sufficient. But I am slowly moving towards the suggested routine for food and drink prior to a workout.

Here is what the Mayo Clinic suggests you do in order to maximize your pre-workout meal to insure best performance.

When to Eat

  • If you consume a large meal you should wait three to four hours before exercising
  • If you consume a small meal wait two to three hours before you work out
  • You can exercise an hour after a snack

What to Eat

A meal prior to working out can consist of your favorite lean meats, grains and vegetables. While a snack can be a granola bar, banana, nuts, dry fruits or yogurt.

When to Drink

The American College of Sports Medicine suggests the following liquid intake:

  • Drink two to three cups of water throughout the two to three hours before your workout
  • Drink about a cup of water every 20 minutes throughout your workout
  • If your exercise routine is longer than an hour, you may want to have a sports drink to maintain your electrolytes.

By properly fueling your body prior to a workout you can get the most out of your exercise routine. You will also be more likely to stay on track during the workout as well as returning to it the next day. Any time you are mindful of your food and liquid intake, you will likely make better food choices that will benefit you before, during and after your workout!

For more fitness inspiration from Maruchy Lachance check out:

Shake Things Up and Spring Into Action

It’s Never Too Late to Get Fit


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