Exercising regularly is crucial not just for weight loss, but also for good overall health. Some walk, others jog, some go to the gym, others do yoga at home, people choose workout options as per their preference and liking. Similarly, some eat before working out while others exercise on an empty stomach. There’s a general perception that one shouldn’t eat hours before working out. When it comes to weight loss, many believe it’s better to exercise on an empty stomach. Others term this as extremely unhealthy. So what’s the truth? Should you work out on an empty stomach? If not, what are the best pre-workout snacks you can have? To get answers to these questions, Onlymyhealth spoke to Neha Pathania, Senior Dietician, Paras Hospitals, Gurugram.
Is It Good To Exercise On An Empty Stomach?
The answer is both yes and no. “Working out on an empty stomach won’t hurt you. It might actually help you depending on your goal,” Pathania said. But at the same time, “exercising before eating comes with the risk of ‘bonking’. Yes, the actual sports term for feeling lethargic or lightheaded due to low blood sugar level,” the nutritionist added.
Hence, if you feel that eating something before working out works for you, then you must do that as its benefits. When you fill your body with the right nutrition, it maximises your performance during a workout and the recovery post it.
Also read: Is It Safe To Work Out On An Empty Stomach?
Best Pre-Workout Snacks You Can Have
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Before looking at the specific food items, let us understand their nutritional aspects.
- Having carbohydrates is good for short and high-intensity exercises as it helps maximise your body’s ability to use glycogen to fuel your practice, Pathania said.
- Similarly, fats fuel your body for longer exercise sessions, the nutritionist added.
Now that you know what macronutrients you must target, here are the best pre-workout snacks you can try to fuel your practice:
As you already know, having carbs can be beneficial for short and high-intensity exercises. Hence, some of the carbs-rich food items you can have include bread, grains, cereals, etc.
2. Fruits And Vegetables
When it comes to nutrition, what better foods are there than fresh fruits and vegetables? These are light on the stomach, can be easily digested, and are filled with vital vitamins and minerals.
3. Familiar Foods
Now, you must not have pre-workout foods that others recommend, which do not work well for you. This will harm you instead of benefit. Hence, it’s better to have familiar foods that are well-tolerated by your body as your pre-workout snack. It can be anything, your favourite fruit, bread, salad, or anything you like.
4. Small Amount of Proteins
Studies suggest that the Indian diet is protein-deficient. Protein is a crucial macronutrient that you are missing out on. Not only does it make you full quicker, but it also increases muscle mass, boosts metabolism, helps your body repair itself, and also helps with weight loss. You can have small amounts of protein before working out, the nutritionist says. Here are some protein-rich food items you can try:
- A small portion of lean meat
- One to two tablespoons of peanut butter
- ¾ cup of low-fat yoghurt
- A cup of milk
- Half a cup of cottage cheese
- An egg
So these are some pre-workout snacks options you can choose from. Again, it all comes to what suits you. Firstly, you must decide if you benefit from eating before exercising. And then, your go-to pre-workout snack should be the one that you like and improve your overall performance.
Post-Workout Snacks Options
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Just like nutrition is crucial before exercising, so is the case after you are done with your workout. If you are wondering what foods you can have after exercising, here are some options you can try:
- Smoothie with yogurt and frozen berries
- A sandwich
- Rice bowl with vegetables and beans
- A banana
- Low-fat chocolate milk
- Whole grain cracker and peanut butter
When it comes to health and weight loss, exercise and nutrition serve as the two pillars. You cannot go far by relying on just one of them. Hence, exercise well and get proper nutrition to reach your fitness goal.
(With inputs from Neha Pathania, Senior Dietician, Paras Hospitals, Gurugram)
Photo Credit: Freepik