Beginners Guide: Eating & Drinking Before Exercising

The quickest way to derail a workout is to suffer from that queasy, I-just-ate feeling. When is the ideal time to eat and drink before a workout? What should you eat?

Snacking and hydrating yourself before a workout can provide you with the extra energy boost you need to power through a workout. Figuring out when to snack and drink can seem tricky. I have had many clients come to a workout saying, “I skipped lunch. I wasn’t sure when it was too late to eat before working out, so I just didn’t eat.” Their workouts suffer – or sometimes come to a crashing halt - because they lack the energy they need to last the entire workout.

Plan to snack an hour or two prior to your workout, and opt for a snack that includes both carbohydrates and protein. The carbohydrates give you the energy you need to fuel your muscles while the protein helps you rebuild and repair your muscles. Keep in mind that this is a recommended time frame – you know what’s best for your body. If you snack an hour before a workout and feel like that wasn’t adequate time for digestion, try two hours next time.

Some suggested snack ideas include:

Snacks that you should avoid eating before a workout are anything rich in fiber and fat, which can cause digestive discomfort (leafy greens, high-sugar protein bars, sports drinks or spicy foods). These foods are often associated with bloating and gas, which aren’t fun ailments to contend with during a workout! 

Hydrating Before/After Exercising:

If you lack proper hydration, your performance suffers. In fact, an individual that experiences a loss of just 2 percent or his or her body weight in fluid can experience a decrease in performance by up to 25 percent. Drinking water before a workout can be an easy step to forget, but the impact is immediately felt. 

The American College of Sports Medicine recommends the following hydration tips

  • Consume 2-3 cups of water prior to your workout.
  • During your workout, aim to drink 8 ounces (1 cup) of water for every 15-20 minutes of workout time.
  • After you are done working out, rehydrate with 2 to 3 cups of water for every pound you lost during the workout. Not in the habit of weighing yourself before and after a workout? Make sure you rehydrate with several cups of water.

Experiment with snacks to figure out what works best for your body.  It took me a few mishaps to determine what worked for me, but now I’ve got it down. You will, too.

If you are ready to exercise but not sure what to do, check out some of my free workouts

  After you are done working out, rehydrate with 2 to 3 cups of water for every pound you lost during the workout. Not in the habit of weighing yourself before and after a workout? Make sure you rehydrate with several cups of water after your workout.

After you are done working out, rehydrate with 2 to 3 cups of water for every pound you lost during the workout. Not in the habit of weighing yourself before and after a workout? Make sure you rehydrate with several cups of water after your workout.