What To Eat Before a Workout

By: Alexandra Raymond, University of Maryland Health Center, Dietetic Intern

As an avid runner (I’m training for the Walt Disney Marathon in January!), I have learned how incredibly important it is to fuel my body with the proper foods before working out.

Eating before activity is imperative because it fuels your muscles so you can get the most out of your workout.

In general, it’s important to pair a carbohydrate with a protein for optimum workout performance.

    Whole wheat toast with peanut butter is a great pairing of carbohydrates and protein to help you power through a workout.

Whole wheat toast with peanut butter is a great pairing of carbohydrates and protein to help you power through a workout.

You may be thinking, why do we need both a protein and a carb before a workout? Well, carbohydrates are the body’s main source of energy and this nutrient will be stored in your muscles and give them an extra boost before you hit the gym. Protein, on the other hand, is important for muscle and tissue repair. In addition, eating protein before a workout may help prevent muscle soreness.

Here are some examples of my favorite pre-workout snacks – all of which are easily found on campus, either in the dining halls or the Union Shop in Stamp!

  • Pretzels and hummus
  • Banana and peanut butter
  • Orange and a hard-boiled egg
  • Cheese and whole wheat crackers
  • Whole grain toast with peanut butter

Try eating a snack about 1-2 hours before your workout so you have some time to digest. You don’t want to get stomach cramps that may cut your workout short.

But you don’t need just food to fuel your workout – fluids are essential too. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!

Did you know that losing just 2% of your body weight in water can negatively affect your athletic performance? So, make sure you are drinking enough water before, during and after your workout.

As a general rule of thumb, for activity lasting less than about 60 minutes, water is enough to hydrate your cells. But, for high intensity activity (like running) lasting more than 60 minutes, you may want to consider drinking a sports drink!

For more information on what to eat before a workout, sign up for a free diet analysis.

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