Speak to any personal trainer, and they’ll agree it’s tricky to do a good training session and really work out when you’re low on fuel. But what to eat before vigorous aerobic exercise, like running? Eat too little, and you could feel lethargic, eat too much, and you’ll get cramps, or even worse, feel sick.
The key is balance – to feel neither stuffed, nor starving, and to listen to your body – as everyone reacts to foods differently. Some can survive on a small piece of fruit and take off for a 10 mile jog, others need a more carb-heavy snack. But these snacking guidelines should help you stay on track with your personal training regime:
Timing: Ideally, you want to eat about 1-2 hours before a long run. Choose a light meal that’s high in carbs and not too high in fat, fibre, and protein – as these are all triggers for stomach problems when running. Examples include 2 crumpets or a slice of toast with peanut butter, a cereal bar and a banana, or several oatcakes and a handful of mixed berries.
Last minutes snacking: Of course, not everyone can time their snacks so far in advance – what if you can only run in the morning? You’ll still need a snack if you are running for more than 30 minutes, but often the digestive system hasn’t woken up yet and can’t handle any complex fuel. So grab a piece of fruit, that’ll release sugar instantly, like an apple or banana, or try a small handful of cereal with raisins. Avoid sugary drinks like Lucozade – although sports drink brands such as MaxiFuel do energy drinks of their own designed for consuming directly before exercise – these often contain ingredients that are less likely to irritate the stomach.
On the run: If you really can’t manage food that early, take a sports gel or energy drink on the run with you – take small sips or consume the gel once you’ve warmed up for a bit of a boost. Gels are a lifesaver for long distance runners – they are easy to digest and give you an instant sugar hit – sip water afterwards if you find the texture too sickly.
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