What happens to your body during exercise?
There are no firm rules when it comes to eating before exercise but there are some points to consider about how your body converts food into energy. When you exercise, your body’s prime source of energy is derived from glycogen— a form of sugar that is stored in your muscles and liver for energy. Without any food, your body will not have the energy to engage in workouts—or that one pull-up that you’ve been trying to accomplish!
Planning your pre-exercise meal
What you eventually decide to eat before an exercise might not necessarily depend on the intensity of the workout, but the amount of time you have before your exercise session. As different types of food vary in the time needed for digestion, you should plan your meal according to how soon it is to your workout.
3-4 hours before workout
3-4 hours before a workout is a substantial amount of time to allow your food to digest. As such, you can aim to fit in a hearty meal comprising carbohydrates, proteins, fibre, vitamins and minerals. Examples of suitable meal choices include:
- A bowl of cereal and milk
- Meat buns and fruit
- A plate of noodles or rice with a modest amount of meat
- Kaya Toast and eggs
1-2 hours before workout
1-2 hours before a workout is considerably less time for a meal to fully digest and should instead be filled with a snack. Examples of healthy snack choices include:
- Fruit smoothie
- Granola Bars
As important as it is to plan your meals and the different types of food to consume, you have to also hydrate. When you exercise, you lose a lot of water due to the workout or climate. If you do not hydrate, you run the risk of causing hurt to your body. Besides water, you can also consider other fluids that may help you replenish the nutrient lost in exercise.
Aside from the new meal plans, you must be slow to introduce too many new food items to your diet all at once. By experimenting with too many new foods at once, your body may not be used to it and react badly to the new intake. This is particularly important before an important race or competition.
Foods to avoid
There are a few different types of food that you should avoid if you don’t want to feel queasy halfway through the workout. From high fat content in food causing bloating to high fibre in vegetables causing discomfort, the following foods should be avoided for pre-exercise workouts:
- Fried chicken wings and French fries
- Carbonated drinks
- Cakes and muffins
- Spicy and oily dishes and rich meats, such as beef rendang
- Any rich fatty snacks like crisps.