What Should You Eat Before a Workout?


Quick Answer

Pre-workout meals should be high in carbohydrates and easily digestible. Since working out on a full stomach can cause stomach cramping and nausea, it is important to allow sufficient time for digestion between eating and exercise.

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Full Answer

Choosing the right pre-workout food depends much on the intensity and length of the upcoming workout. Glucose, which can be obtained from carbohydrates, is the best source for the energy a person needs while working out. Pasta, bread, energy bars and various fruits contain high levels of carbohydrates. These foods can take anywhere from one to four hours to digest.

If there is not sufficient time before a workout to digest heartier foods such as pasta or bread, then fresh fruit or an energy gel may have to suffice. A liquid meal is digested faster than a solid meal.

Since fatty or fibrous foods can remain in the stomach a long time, they should be avoided. Meats, candy bars and doughnuts are all difficult to digest.

While some people appreciate the stimulant that caffeine provides prior to exercise, the potential side effects must also be considered.

Because everyone reacts to foods differently, individual experimentation is the most effective way to determine successful pre-workout eating habits.

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