What Should You Eat Before Your Workout?
I had a Synergy member come to a workout one day and had to stop because she was going to puke. I asked her if she was going to be alright and if she knew what was causing her Mr. Pukey feeling. She said that before she came she was hungry so she ate a big ‘ol bowl of Lucky Charms cereal. WHOA THERE!!! Was she trying to find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow because this particular bowl of cereal didn’t make her so lucky because she got to experience it twice and trust me, it didn’t look so colorful that second time around… if you know what I mean. Ha ha!!
Not only is cereal grains and dairy DEFINITELY NOT what we advocate as healthy to eat in our Synergy eating foundational principles, BUT this is probably the absolute worst to eat prior to a workout.
Sooo… what then should you be eating before your workouts for best results AND to keep down your lunch so no one else sees what you were eating earlier that day? GREAT QUESTION!!
Short Answer: Your best pre-workout meal is Absolutely Nothing except good ‘ol H2O and this is so you burn the most calories from fat, have the most energy, and don’t feel like tossing your cookies during your workout.
Long Answer: When we eat or don’t eat we are working with 2 main nervous systems: Sympathetic and Para-Sympathetic.
Sympathetic (aka fight or flight): When exercising body energy is focused on skeletal muscles. Basically shuts down digestion.
Parasympathetic (aka feed or breed): After a meal body focuses on digestion and absorption of nutrients. Upon vigorous exercise your body is trying to void the stomach of its contents so it can focus on your musculoskeletal system.
Your body prefers to have one system dominant at a time. That’s why you’re mother and grandmother always told you to not go swimming after you eat. The 2 components of your nervous system are “competing” and you may cramp/drown. The best thing that you can do for yourself is be extremely well hydrated and have an empty stomach for at least 2 hours prior to exercise. This might take some getting used to if you have not been acclimated to this yet, but you will experience much better results in the long run.
Your Post-Workout meal is actually quite important, however, and ensure you get one balanced with protein, healthy fats, and good carbs such as a sweet potato about 45 minutes post workout to begin your recovery.