If you read the first article in this three part nutrition series, then this article may seem in direct contradiction to my advice in the Pre-Workout Nutrition article, but I promise it all ties together. A common mistake many people make when it comes to properly fueling a workout is eating too much food too close to the workout. Let’s take a closer look at the importance of timing your meals.
If you’ve already eaten adequately throughout the day, you’re more likely to have a less effective workout by eating than by not eating. Ideally, an easily digested meal centered around carbs and lean protein about three hours before your workout is your safest bet. Oatmeal and milk, fruit and yogurt, or a turkey sandwich are all great options. If you are headed to the gym directly after work or over the lunch hour, it’s easy to get distracted and lose track of time. Packing what you’ll need the night before or setting a reminder to eat your pre-workout meal as close to on-time as you can may be helpful.
It’s important to be conservative about fueling closer to your workout, especially if you miss your meal time window. You may need to go lighter in fiber and protein as the window between eating and your workout decreases, including sticking to simple carbs if you’re forced to fuel within the hour before your workout. You’ll also likely find that your tolerance for eating near your workouts increases over time as you experiment and become more comfortable in your training program.
Stay tuned until next week when I’ll cover the final part of workout nutrition: what to eat after your workout.
About the writer: Joli Guenther is a certified personal trainer, yoga instructor and clinical social worker practicing in and around Madison, Wisconsin. Learn more on the Meet Our Writers page.