Thursday, March 20, 2014
The ABCs of Pre-Training Eating
Eating before a workout is something not all athletes do. While most realize its importance, many are worried about experiencing stomach pain or other symptoms that will affect their training. Remember that pre-training eating is key to having a successful workout, where you can push your body 100% throughout the session and fully reap the benefits of that training. The solution to successful pre-training eating is to follow your ABCs.....
1. Allow enough time
Often athletes guzzle down a bottle of sports drink or nosh on an entire banana five minutes before their workout. For most, this is not enough time for the body to adequately begin the digestion process before training starts. This can result in stomach pain, exercise-induced GERD, gas, bloating or even diarrhea. During training, the body pulls fluid from the intestinal track in order to send it to the extremities. That means there isn't enough fluid for digestion if a large amount of food remains in the stomach. Therefore, allow enough time before training. Begin with 1 hour before. If you tolerate this, move up to 30-45 minutes before. The bare minimum you need to allow is 15 minutes before training to assure that the energy you eat actually makes it to your muscles for your training session. But what do you choose? Funny you should ask because point #2 is.........
2. Be particular with what you choose
What you choose depends on how much time you have before your workout. As a rule of thumb, if you have....
60 minutes - choose a solid (vs. liquid) carbohydrate source with a moderate amount of protein (think of this as a small snack). A small amount of fat is okay too. Some examples include 1/2 PBJ, pineapple and cottage cheese, or a trail mix with dried fruit and nuts
30 minutes - choose a solid (vs. liquid) carbohydrate source but omit any fat and protein. Examples include a banana, a small bag of pretzels or a small bagel.
15 minutes - choose a liquid carbohydrate source such as sports drinks, diluted fruit juice or gels/gus
Regardless of when you eat, be sure to include 1-1.5 cups water to help the food get out of your stomach. This holds true for those gus/gels too!
3. Consistency is key
If you complete a new training session and feel overly sore, you don't avoid doing that workout for the rest of your life. The same should hold true for pre-training eating. If you don't feel well eating before a workout, do not avoid pre-training eating forever. You need to train your stomach just like you train your muscles. Consistently eat before training sessions. If you experience symptoms, decrease the portion or try different foods. You will eventually find that perfect combination that works at that perfect amount of time pre-training.
Photo source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/8363028@N08/