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You don’t have to be a competitive athlete to reap the benefits of a healthy, pre-workout snack.
But what exactly should you eat before exercising?
Over the years, various diet and fitness enthusiasts have promoted fad diets that discourage eating before exercise. But this can be counterproductive when it comes to fitness performance–and downright dangerous for those who are managing chronic medical conditions like diabetes.
While optimal fuel sources and amounts vary depending on the type and duration of exercise, in general it’s a good idea to include a snack if your workout will last an hour or more.
Mixed meals that include of combination of carbohydrate, protein and fat are ideal since they provide a balanced source of energy, but carbohydrate is essential according to some experts. Nancy Clark, an author and sports nutritionist, recommends consuming about 200 to 300 calories (roughly 0.5 grams of carbohydrate per pound of body weight) before a bout of exercise lasting 60 to 90 minutes.
As part of my self-care plan, I routinely prepare a simple snack before heading to the gym or the trail. The few times that I’ve either forgotten or decided that I didn’t have enough time to eat, I paid for it later. (Being light-headed or unable to sustain a workout isn’t fun.) For my pre-workout snack yesterday, I chose a slice of toast topped with peanut butter, sliced banana, and a few sprinkles of shredded coconut. Yum!
Because tolerance and digestion are quite individualized, a smart approach is to experiment with different food combinations to see what works best for you.