Eat Before Or After A Workout?

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There can be some confusion about whether you should eat before, during or after a workout for maximum energy, but still burn excess calories to lose weight and burn fat. Your body needs energy to keep it functioning at peak efficiency. You need nutrients including vitamins, minerals and protein to help build and repair muscles and keep cells free of toxins. You should eat a healthy diet from all the major food groups and include enough complex carbohydrates to provide the energy you need. Drink plenty of water before, during and after a workout to replace lost water due to sweating. 
You should not start a workout when you are hungry. You will not have the energy or nutrients needed to maximize your workout. Low blood sugar resulting from fasting can cause you to feel weak, and in some cases, lightheaded. If your blood sugar is very low,  you could even lose consciousness for a brief time. This can be dangerous. Don’t fast before a workout. About one hour before a workout, eat foods that have a high  glycemic index, such as fruits, whole grain breads and pastas. Avoid eating too much fiber before a workout because it can make you feel sluggish. Select quick digesting foods that are rich in carbohydrates. 
Keep your body hydrated and fueled during high intensity workouts that last 45 minutes or longer. Keep a bottle of water handy and drink from it frequently during your workout. Sports drinks with electrolytes are also a good choice to replace salts and minerals lost through sweating and to maintain the electrolyte balance in your body. A granola bar is a good choice for a quick snack if you feel hungry during your workout. 
After an intense workout that lasts more than 45 minutes or longer, you will need to replenish your protein and sugar stores. A high protein peanut butter sandwich, 8 ounces of water and a banana can provide your body with the vitamins, minerals, protein and carbohydrates necessary to repair tissues and recover from a strenuous workout. Yogurt, natural fruit juice (no added sugar) and some nuts, such as walnuts or almonds, granola or sliced fruit can help replenish depleted nutrients.  

For information about what you should eat for energy, see:
WebMD, What to Eat Before, During and After Exercise, by  Kathleen M. Zelman, MPH, RD, LD

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About Robin R.
I’m an AFPA certified personal trainer & nutrition consultant, NASM certified corrective exercise specialist, NASM certified youth exercise specialist, online fitness coach and freelance writer specializing in health and fitness. I hold a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of San Francisco and a Master of Science in natural health. I specialize in weight loss, functional strength training, total body toning, aerobic conditioning, plyometric training, nutrition planning, and home-based boot camp style workouts for women. My goal is to make every personal training session fun and effective for my clients. My services include both in-home personal training and online fitness coaching.

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