Eating before exercise is often advised to ensure you are well fueled, and can get the most out of your training session. However, as with everything in nutrition, it all depends on the individual, their preferences and the time of day they train.
Most active people can meet their pre exercise nutritional needs without any additional food or supplements, by eating a healthy, well balanced meal or snack 1-2 hours before training (eg. your normal breakfast may act as your pre training nutrition for mid morning session).
If you are exercising for general health and fitness and have modest goals, focus on the quality and quantity of your food. In the 2 hours before you exercise you should consume a meal or snack that will help sustain energy, keep you hydrated, boost performance, preserve muscle and speed recovery.
What to include:
Protein – to help maintain or increase muscle size
Carbohydrates – to fuel your training and help with recovery
Fats – will assist in slowing digestion and provide vitamins and minerals.
If you are an athlete training for an event, or have more specific goals, you may need to be more aggressive with the pre exercise nutrition and add additional food or supplements into your daily eating routine. This is particularly important if you are training first thing in the morning.
What to include:
Carbohydrates – aim for low fibre carbs which will digest quickly and easily (eg. white bread, rice cakes etc)
Protein – you could potentially include a source of protein but it will depend on your type of training and goals
Rather than consuming a larger meal, some people may prefer to consume something smaller, closer to their session (within the hour before). In this case, a liquid may be easier to tolerate than food. A smoothie is a perfect pre exercise snack that can be consumed within an hour of training. Try out the recipe below!
1 tsp honey
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
3-4 walnuts halves
Blend together and enjoy!