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Eating And Exercising: 5 Top Tips

 

Anyone who’s ever had a high-fat meal knows how sluggish it can make you feel. (Thanksgiving dinner, anyone?) To get the most from your exercise routine, you need to eat healthy and nourishing foods. Here, from the Mayo Clinic, are some suggestions:

1. Eat a healthy breakfast

If you exercise in the morning, get up early enough to finish breakfast at least one hour before your workout. Most of the energy you got from dinner the previous night is used up by morning, and your blood sugar might be low. If you don't eat, you might feel sluggish or lightheaded when you exercise.

If you plan to exercise within an hour after breakfast, eat a light breakfast or drink something to raise your blood sugar, such as a sports drink. Emphasize carbohydrates for maximum energy.

Good breakfast options include:

Whole-grain cereals or bread

Low-fat milk

Juice

Bananas

Yogurt

A waffle or pancake

And remember, if you normally have coffee in the mornings, a cup before your workout is probably OK. Also know that anytime you try a food or drink for the first time before a workout, you risk an upset stomach.

2. Size matters

Be careful not to overdo it when it comes to how much you eat before exercise. The general guideline:

Large meals. Eat these at least three to four hours before exercising.

Small meals. Eat these two to three hours before exercising.

Small snacks. Eat these an hour before exercising.

Eating too much before you exercise can leave you feeling sluggish. Eating too little might not give you the energy to keep you feeling strong throughout your workout.

3. Snack well

Most people can eat small snacks right before and during exercise. The key is how you feel. Do what works best for you. Snacks eaten soon before exercise probably won't give you added energy, but they can help keep up your blood sugar and prevent distracting hunger pangs. Good snack options include:

Energy bars

Bananas or other fresh fruit

Yogurt

Fruit smoothies

Whole-grain bagel or crackers

Low-fat granola bars

Peanut butter sandwiches

A healthy snack is especially important if you plan a workout several hours after a meal.

4. Eat after you exercise

To help your muscles recover and to replace their glycogen stores, eat a meal that contains both protein and carbohydrates within two hours of your exercise session if possible. Good post-workout food choices include:

Yogurt and fruit

Peanut butter sandwich

Low-fat chocolate milk and pretzels

Pasta with meatballs

Chicken with brown rice

5. Drink up

Don't forget to drink fluids. You need adequate fluids before, during and after exercise to help prevent dehydration.

To stay well-hydrated for exercise, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends that you:

Drink roughly 2 to 3 cups (473 to 710 milliliters) of water during the two to three hours before your workout.

Drink about 1/2 to 1 cup (118 to 237 milliliters) of water every 15 to 20 minutes during your workout. Adjust amounts related to your body size and the weather.

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