By Garrett Weber-Gale
Olympic Gold Medalist
If you’re like many individuals, you typically hit the gym right after work. This is a wonderful routine, and a great way to make sure that you get your workout in for the day, before you go home and relax. What many people may not realize is that they’re not getting the full benefit of their workout, even though they may be working hard. This is due to the simple fact that the majority of people aren’t properly fueling themselves before heading to the gym to workout.
If your last meal or snack was around noon, and you’re going to workout at 5:30, then you’re putting yourself at a disadvantage as far as getting the full “bang for your buck.” We can’t perform at our best and work towards better fitness without being properly nourished.
So, what should you eat before working out? For most people, something as simple as a piece of fruit will make the difference. However, this depends upon how hard, and for how long you’re working out. If you have an afternoon snack around 3 or 4 p.m., that can be proper fuel for your workout. Here are some examples of pre-workout snacks and timing for maximal benefits.
Between 30 minutes to one hour prior to your workout, eat a piece of fruit or around 100 calories of a quick digesting carbohydrate – toast with jelly, a granola bar, pita with hummus, whole wheat crackers, part of a bagel or maybe some instant oatmeal.
One to two hours prior to your workout, add a little more protein or fat to the mix. For example, try a banana with peanut butter, a protein bar, trail mix, almonds, string cheese, pb&j, turkey sandwich or maybe some rice and beans.
The important thing to remember about eating before you exercise is only eat until you feel good, don’t eat until you feel full (this is actually a great rule to practice all the time). We’re just trying to get a bit of fuel here … not a full meal.
Don’t do yourself a disservice by going from lunch to dinner without any snack. You will get much more out of your workout if you’re not running on empty. It may take some experimenting to see what kind of snack works for you prior to your workout, but once you find something, you will surely feel more energized. Be patient and understand that it may take a few weeks, or even months, to find something that works for you. You might even want to ask other people for ideas of what they’re eating.
Want to learn more wellness and nutrition tips to help prepare your young athlete for competition?
Sign up for the JCC’s Athletic Foodie ™ Competitive Swim Clinic with Olympic Gold Medalist Garret Weber-Gale on Friday, June 20 from 9 a.m.-1:30 p.m. at the Rosenbloom Owings Mills JCC. This program if free for Speedo Boot Camp participants. For details visit jcc.org/athleticfoodie.