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Pre-Exercise Nutrition

Muscles require carbohydrates. Without an adequate supply, they are unable to generate the energy needed to power through a workout. Eating properly before exercising is a vital way of providing them with the strength they need to see an exercise session through to the end.

Wise Choices in Pre-Exercise Nutrition

High-carbohydrate foods like bread, pasta, fruits and energy bars always make the best pre-exercise meals. However, anyone familiar with accepted training tips knows that eating a large meal prior to working out can result in nausea, cramps and other forms of stomach upset. 

It normally takes the body between one and four hours to digest food, and that’s how long a person should wait after a heavy meal before attempting to engage in an exercise routine. Similarly, those whose are short on time before exercising should only dine on easily digested foods. Sports drinks, fresh fruits and energy gels are a perfect choice for anyone who plans to work out within an hour.

Athletes who have at least two to three hours available before beginning an exercise session can dine more grandly on such carb-laden stamina boosters as:

– Pastas, breads and bagels.
– Fresh fruits.
– Yogurt.
– Water.

Of course, those who have between three and four pre-exercise hours at their disposal have time to enjoy a full-course meal. Again, though, only one that’s heavy on the carbs will provide the fuel the muscles need to perform at their peak. In addition to the usual recommendations of fruits, breads and pasta, the athlete can consider adding:

– Yogurt.
– Cereal and milk.
– A sandwich composed of bread, peanut butter, cheese or lean meat.

The Effect of Glucose on Athletic Performance

Studies indicate that ingesting some form of glucose or sugar between 35 and 40 minutes before an event will provide athletes with the stamina they need to keep going long after other forms of fuel have given out.

gym shake woman

The Effect of Caffeine on Athletic Performance

Most people today are familiar with caffeine’s effect on the central nervous system, but not everyone is aware of its endurance-extending capabilities. Caffeine accomplishes this seeming miracle by boosting the body’s ability to burn fat for fuel. In so doing, it postpones the body’s need to burn glucose, leaving this vital substance available to the muscles when they most need it.

However, anyone who hopes to increase stamina by using caffeine must keep in mind this chemical’s propensity for causing muscle tremors, headaches, nausea and nervousness. In addition, its diuretic properties can lead to a state of dehydration that will actually lower the body’s ability to perform.

What Not to Eat Pre-Exercise

Foods with a heavy fat content are satisfying for one important reason: The body digests them slowly, taking the blood it needs to perform the process directly from the muscles. The cramping that often results can wreak havoc with anyone’s ability to complete a workout.

Everyone Is Different

Just as the training tips that work for one person might do nothing for someone else, the same is true of foods. Each person is unique, and what works for one may have the opposite effect on another. Proper nutrition is vital, but in the end, only experimentation will reveal exactly which foods best improve the performance of any one particular athlete.

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