Posted by: Dr. Tyrone A. Holmes | May 7, 2014

10 Nutrition and Hydration Tips – #1: Eat Before a Workout or Event

Do you ever feel like you’re dragging during a workout? Have you ever felt tired or unexpectedly weak during a competition? You may have thought you were going to perform at a really high level, but for some reason you just didn’t have it. Chances are this occurred because of poor dietary practices. One of the most important steps you can take to maximize athletic performance is to eat a proper meal prior to a workout or competition. Eating a light meal before strenuous activity will provide you with the energy you need to complete a high intensity training session or to perform at your highest level during a competitive event. Keep these three points in mind as you consider your “pre-game meal”:

  1. Experiment with a variety of foods to see what is most agreeable with your body. Don’t rely on what other people tell you. A food that works great for one person may cause gastrointestinal (GI) distress in another. DO NOT try something new right before an important event. Use trial and error to figure out what works best for you while you are training.
  2. Eat your meal 2 or 3 hours before your workout or competition. This should give your body plenty of time to digest your food and eliminate any problems with bloating.  
  3. Eat between 1.0 and 1.5 grams of carbohydrate for every pound of body weight. For example, a 150-pound athlete should consume 150 to 225 carbohydrate grams. This should consist of both solid food and fluids, and can include some protein and fat (the fat should be unsaturated). However, be mindful that protein and fat slow the digestive process, which can be a problem because the pre-event meal should be fully digested before exercise begins, especially if you will be working at a high intensity. The same goes for fiber. While a high-fiber diet is desirable, the pre-workout meal should keep fiber to a minimum because it will also slow the digestive process.  

Some nutritious foods include bagels, pasta, rice, cereal (e.g., Corn Flakes, Raisin Bran), potatoes, oatmeal, sandwiches (e.g., peanut butter and jelly, turkey, roast beef) and fruits such as bananas and oranges. In addition, drinks such as orange juice, apple juice and Gatorade provide easily digested carbohydrates as well as fluids for improved hydration. Some foods to avoid include high fat, high protein and/or low carbohydrate items such as steak, bacon, sausage, hot dogs and tuna fish. Also, many vegetables, while highly nutritious don’t make for a good pre-event snack because of their high-fiber and low-calorie counts. Such foods include asparagus, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, Lima beans and spinach.

NEXT POST – May 14, 2014

10 Nutrition and Hydration Tips:  Eat Immediately After a Workout or Competitive Event

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