We see a lot of marketing of sports drinks, energy bars, and other concoctions, and these food items may give you more energy while you're working out.
"It's a contradiction, but you really do need the calories to perform well," said Barbara Lewin, R.D., L. D., a sports nutritionist who works with professional and Olympic athletes. "The calories are what's enabling you to work out at your best. If you're not well-fueled, you're not going to work out as hard."
If you're planning on endurance training, it is essential that you eat. Andrea Hacker Thompson, M.S., R.D., of the American College of Sports Medicine writes, "A race car never starts a race without new tires and a full tank of gas, so an endurance athlete should not start a workout without fueling. Eating before a workout guarantees that the body starts with a full tank of glycogen."
So what if you're not going to be participating in vigorous endurance training? If your workout plan is longer than 90 minutes, you should still plan on eating a little something beforehand. This is because of the way our bodies use energy during a workout. Any time we exert ourselves, we burn glycogen, glucose that is stored in our muscle and liver cells. After we're done with that store of carbohydrates, we start to feel tired and worn out. Thompson explains that our body can store up to 2,000 calories in gylcogen and if you plan on going over that amount, you will begin to feel lightheaded, or faint.
If you're planning on doing just a 30 minute workout, don't stress over whether you get to eat something beforehand or not. What you should be more concerned about is staying hydrated. Water is perfect for a 30 minute activity, but anything over 30 minutes may require a drink with electrolytes, like a sports drink or fruit.
The Mayo Clinic recommends that you plan on having your snack about an hour before your exercise or a medium meal two hours before an extended exercise session. If you're eating a full meal, give yourself between three and four hours before you head out and do any activity so you can avoid stomach cramps or diarrhea.
But what's most important is seeing how your body responds. Can you do your 30 minute morning run without your yogurt? Then don't eat it.
Reference: Shape Magazine
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