A fitness instructor learns about and witnesses the affects of many poor eating habits. I'm human and on many days don’t even come close to eating the perfect diet but I see too many people ignore some of the fundamental principles of diet and exercise. One of the rules that I believe is most ignored and the cause of some horrible affects like lightheadedness, sluggishness, and even fainting is "eating before exercise."
It's a pretty simple concept - our bodies need fuel to run and the only way we can give it the fuel it needs is to eat. The rule of thumb is to eat small meals 2-3 hours prior and lite snacks 1 hour prior to exercise. Yes, this means that morning workout warriors have to wake up even earlier to eat before exercising because most of the energy you get from dinner is used by the morning. Exercising with low blood sugar causes you to feel lightheaded, sluggish, and faint. It's no coincidence that my morning class participants complain about these symptoms the most.
Eating something before exercise is better than eating nothing at all but what you eat matters! The kind of fuel you give your body directly affects your performance, how you feel while exercising, and the results you’ll see from all of your hard work. Some guidelines you may want to consider when deciding what to eat before exercising include:
- Incorporate plenty of water to double your daily water intake on the days you exercise
- Eat low-fat snacks and meals that have a balance of carbohydrates and protein with an emphasis on the carbohydrates. Aim for a 4:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein.
- Drink an all natural sports drink (like Shaklee Performance) to raise your blood sugar especially when you’re not confident you ate a diet that will give you the energy you need
- Consider all natural supplements like shakes and bars that are designed for pre-workout nutrition especially when you are pressed for time
- Eat familiar and tolerated foods that are sure to digest properly leaving you energized and feeling good. There's nothing worse than feeling bloated and crampy during a workout.
- Keep a journal of your pre-workout snacks and meals that include comments about your performance and how you felt to determine what foods work best for you
Since there are quite a few things to consider when choosing pre-workout meals and snacks and I don’t want my morning workout warriors to have any excuses about not eating before they exercise, a list of Gaia Fit’s favorite pre-workout grab-n-go snacks follows. All of these snacks will digest easily and are packed with the carbohydrates you need for a great workout.
- Protein shakes or bars made by Shaklee or Larabar
- All-natural fruit juice mixed with water
- Figs or Fig Newtons
- All-natural energy chews or sports drinks like those made by Shaklee
So please stop asking your body to work so hard for you before giving it what it needs and eat before you exercise!