What you eat before you exercise is really important to athletic performance and pleasure. You want to be able to adequately fuel the upcoming activity, make sure the muscles have all the carbohydrate they need to effectively execute training. And you also want to avoid foods that cause gastrointestinal distress or discomfort — stomach cramps are a real de-motivator. Depending on how much time you have before the training session, you will eat with the goal of having the food broken down and absorbed by the time exercise starts.

The closer you are to exercise time, the fewer fats and proteins you want to eat. These foods don’t digest quickly and can cause stomach upset if you begin working too soon after the meal. If you are rushed and need to fuel within 30 minutes of the session, it’s best to stick with sports drinks or gels, as these are digested quickly and provide nearly instant energy.

Good foods to eat prior to exercise include:

Pasta

Rice

Potatoes

Oatmeal

Fruit

Toast with Peanut Butter and Jelly

Nonfat yogurt

Skim or 1 percent milk

Bad foods include:

Steak

Meat/Deli Sandwiches

Bacon/Sausage

Cream/Cheese

Salads

Soft drinks (carbonated)

If no real food is available to you, a sports drink consumed within about 45 minutes of the session is a good choice.

If you can eat one to two hours before exercise, about 1 gram of carbohydrate per pound of bodyweight is the recommended amount. If you eat within an hour of your workout, back it off to 0.5 g/pound of bodyweight.

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