It doesn’t matter if you’re a recreational exerciser, or go daily to the gym, maybe take dance classes, do long bike rides, etc. You may wonder how to eat and hydrate around exercise.
If you decide to exercise for a little less than an hour right after you get out of bed in the morning, then you don’t necessarily need to eat anything first, especially if you want your activity to be moderate. However, if you are going for an energetic exercise like running, biking or lifting weights, then you might want to consider the idea of eating something first. If you’re running on an empty stomach, you’re not likely to have an energetic workout.
The same applies to a vigorous workout, or exercise lasting more than an hour. Eat something before and shortly after. If you’re exercising for many hours — such as a day hike — then you’ll need additional food and water during the exercise.
High-quality carbohydrates are the best kind to consume throughout the day. Whole grains, beans, lentils, fruits and vegetables. There’s no need to aim for X grams of carbohydrates before/during/after exercise. Just giving your body a little snack is fine.
Good options include a granola bar, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, oatmeal or yogurt with fruit and nuts. If you find it hard to have solid foods first thing in the morning, a small fruit-based smoothie is another good option.
Most people can get enough protein from having a balanced diet alone, so protein powders are not actually necessary before or after the workout.
Water is the best beverage for most exercisers and it’s better to avoid sports drinks as you can get most of your calories and carbs from food. However, sports drinks can be beneficial during lengthy exercise or if you are a salty sweater!