6 On Your Side: Consumer Confidence, Why You Should Eat Before a Work Out

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(ABC 6 News) – Whether you’re a daily exerciser, an elite athlete, or a weekend warrior, getting the right nutrition is key. But maybe you’re wondering about the age-old question: Should you eat before or after exercise? And what should you eat? In your 6 On Your Side: Consumer Confidence Report, we break down how to fuel your body to get the most from your workouts.

Sarah Stockwell, 48, works out for up to an hour, 5 to 6 days a week. She does it to feel strong physically and mentally.

“I run once a week. I also do a power yoga class for about an hour once a week. I swim. I like to do everything once a week,” Stockwell said. “I honestly feel better if I get outside and move without anything sitting in my stomach.”

But Consumer Reports Health Editor Kevin Loria says she might want to consider at least a small snack before heading out on such an ambitious workout.

“Yes, eating a big meal right before isn’t a good idea, but if it’s been more than a couple of hours, a small snack about an hour before exercise can give you energy,” Loria said.

A good rule of thumb is to aim for 20 to 30 grams of carbs and 5 to 10 grams of protein, like a banana with peanut butter, a hard-boiled egg with toast, or string cheese and a granola bar.

High-fat or high-fiber foods could take longer to digest, so best to stay away.

Also, eating AFTER exercise is a must. That’s when the body’s cells are primed to absorb carbs and protein. Sarah has her breakfast a half-hour after her ride.

“After long, intense workouts, your body may start using muscle for fuel – causing muscle loss. Eating within 40 minutes after cardio or strength training restores fuel stores and supports muscle recovery,” Loria said.

Many nutritionists recommend your post-workout meal should have a 2-to-1 carb-to-protein ratio to restore the energy you burned, like Sarah who has yogurt, granola, seeds, and fruit.

And always drink enough fluid before, during, and after your workout – at least 17 to 20 ounces of water 2 hours before and even more if it’s very hot outside, and another 7 to 10 ounces for every 10 to 20 minutes of exercise.

Along with drinking water, loading up on fruits and vegetables with high water content, like melons, cabbage, and apples, can also help you stay hydrated!