By: Tamara Jacobi Whether you’re packing your gym bag, tying on your running shoes or pumping up your bike tires, you should also be considering how to fuel your body for your workout. What you eat before you exercise directly affects your workout: how you feel during your workout, how hard you can push yourself, how long you can go for and how you feel afterward. Particularly for those of you who exercise to keep those pesky pounds at bay, it’s important to realize that you need to fuel yourself with quality food choices in order to set the stage for sustainable weight loss. Heading to the gym with an empty fuel tank isn’t going to get you very far!
Now is a great time to take a moment to consider what your best pre-workout fuel might be. Here are simple guidelines to send your energy soaring so that you can feel great, and get the most out of your workouts and summer adventures!
a) Timing is key. Ideally, you want to eat 45 minutes to an hour before you workout. Your body requires energy to digest your food, so when your body is digesting your latest meal there is less energy available for your workout. Therefore, it’s important to give your body a chance to digest before diving into your workout. If you need to eat immediately before your workout an easily digestible piece of fruit such as an apple or banana is a great choice.
b) Choose foods that are easy to digest, but also offer long lasting energy. A white bagel will give you a quick blast of energy, but will then cause a serious energy slump in the middle of your workout. Conversely, a meal of whole grains like granola or oatmeal are easily digested and will keep your energy high for a long period of time. Complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, fruits and veggies are good choices before your workout.
c) Include a healthy fat in your pre-workout meal. Healthy fats such as avocado, chia seeds and quality oils will keep your body satisfied for long periods of time. Healthy fats slow down the digestion rate of other foods, which allows you to workout for longer without needing to stop for a snack.
d) Avoid high protein/high calorie energy bars and powders before your workout. When it comes to exercise many of us think protein, protein, protein. Though protein is important, you don’t necessarily want to focus on protein prior to your workout. High protein energy bars and powders can be hard to digest, which will slow you down and cause fatigue during your workout. They’re also high in calories, which can sabotage your weight loss efforts (unless you’re an extreme athlete who’s active for many hours)
Curious to know some of my favorite pre-workout foods?
Oatmeal, fruit & nuts: This is a quick and simple choice that is will digest easily well, offer long lasting energy and give you a punch of energy that will get you started on your workout.
Whole Grain toast & Avocado: Throw some whole grain toast in the toaster, slice up some avocado and voila, a perfect pre-workout meal! This combo will keep you satisfied and nourished for many hours.
Smoothies: A fruit smoothie with some avocado or chia seeds is like liquid energy. Your body doesn’t need to spend as much time digesting so the nutrients and energy can go straight into your blood stream.
Want to know more about fuel for before, during and after your workouts? Join me for my upcoming 30 day nourishment challenge. This series of audio classes will send your energy soaring for the summer and build your nutritional foundation so that you can do everything that you love! Also be sure to check out my FREE guide to start listening to your unique body.
Tamara Jacobi, Certified Health Coach
Tamara Jacobi is a certified health and nutrition coach who received her training at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. She is the founder of Jungle Girl Health, www.junglegirlhealth.com, offering health coaching over the phone to individuals who are ready to feel and look their best. By using whole foods for healing and lifestyle balancing techniques, Tamara helps people understand how to heal and nourish their bodies completely.
Tamara leads an adventurous and active lifestyle, dividing her time between the Colorado Rocky Mountains and the Mexican Pacific coastline. In Mexico, she is the owner and manager of the Tailwind jungle lodge, a certified sustainable jungle lodge and adventure tour company just north of Puerto Vallarta, www.tailwindjunglelodge.com. Tamara also guides adventure tours for the Tailwind jungle lodge including sea kayaking, stand up paddle boarding and hiking. In her free time she spends as much time as possible playing outside. She is a passionate skier, road biker, trail runner and stand up paddle boarder.