Carbohydrates and Exercise
Pre-workout (low-GI) carbohydrate choices:
Garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
Low-fat, fruited yogurt
Skim milk, plain or chocolate
Post-workout (high-GI) carbohydrate choices:
White rice, long grain, quick cooking
There are also considerations for carbs and timing of meals that depend on when you work out. Whether it's first thing in the morning, during your lunch hour, late afternoon, or after work, make sure you're not sabotaging your efforts by giving yourself either too little or the wrong kind of food.
If you're an early riser who likes to work out while most everyone else is still sleeping, congratulations! This is the best time to work out -- not necessarily in terms of burning more calories but because it's done and out of the way. Not much conflicts with a 5:30 a.m. workout. You're less likely to blow it off than if you save it for after work when long-running meetings, family commitments, or socializing with coworkers can get in the way.
How do you feel before you begin your morning workout? Do you wake up hungry? If that's the case, you definitely need to eat something before you exercise. There's no one perfect food for everyone, so experiment with different food choices. One thing is certain, a small amount of a carbohydrate-rich food will do the trick to get you going and keep you going. Since glycogen (carbohydrate) stores are used while you sleep to keep your heart, brain, and other organs functioning, you need to top off those stores in the morning, particularly if you're hungry first thing.
Some people do just fine exercising in the morning on an empty stomach; in fact, they may feel discomfort if they DO eat. Again, pay attention to your own hunger cues to see how you feel. If you're one of these folks, you may be ravenous after you wrap up your workout. This is an especially good time to bring on the carbohydrates! Immediately following a workout, your muscle cells are most receptive to taking up carbohydrate -- sort of like sponges soaking up all that glucose and storing it for the next bout of exercise.
What if you have no appetite before you exercise and still don't feel hungry when you're finished? Try a liquid form of carbs, such as a fruit smoothie or a sports drink. This will still get the carbohydrate to your muscles within an optimal time frame and help prevent the extreme hunger that often follows a delayed appetite. Sometimes your appetite kicks in when you don't have access to food, and you end up overly hungry.
Working out during lunchtime can break up the day while relieving stress. Before you work out, however, think back a few hours: Did you eat breakfast or skip it? If you ate breakfast, how many hours has it been? That light breakfast eaten in the predawn hours is long gone, and you may feel the effects in the form of low energy once you hit the gym. If you've skipped breakfast altogether, well, by now you know the consequences of that!
If a midday workout is your standard routine, make certain you're up to the challenge by eating a mid-morning, carbohydrate-rich snack. Remember that most people need to eat every 3 to 4 hours. Topping off your tank an hour or so before you exercise will get you through your workout with energy to spare. Once you're finished, don't think skipping lunch will aid in your weight-loss efforts. Replenish carbohydrates, fluid, and protein to refill glycogen stores, cool and rehydrate your body, and begin to rebuild muscle. All are equally important for your next workout!
©2006 Publications International, Ltd.
Exercise is a key component of weight
loss, but eating is also vital to an
effective workout. Don't skimp on the
nutrition before you exercise.
Consider eating five to six times during the day (meals and snacks), and include protein and carbohydrate each time. This eating strategy helps fill in nutrient gaps, maintain a steady blood sugar level, and won't leave you empty at the end of the day when your workout depends on adequate calories.
For some people, foods with a high glycemic index may produce a quick surge in blood sugar followed by a quick drop to a too-low level. Use those foods in moderation before and during a workout. High-GI foods typically are best saved for replenishing glycogen after a workout.
In our final section, we'll teach how to decipher the various diet and low-carb promises you'll find in the aisles of your grocery store.
This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.