It’s important to fuel your body before you exercise. Not doing so is like trying to drive your car with no petrol in it. Having said that, we are not talking about huge meals. If your workout is an hour or less, you don’t actually need to eat that much. What you eat and how much is more important. Again, you wouldn’t put diesel into a petrol car and expect it to function properly. Eating small amounts, especially of the dinner recipes is key, otherwise you run the risk of wanting to go to sleep after, rather than working out. If you have a huge bowl of pasta, you won’t feel like exercising! Eat the foods that you know will help to keep you awake and avoid things where you like to snooze afterwards. Eating before a workout and fuelling your body means that you get a more productive workout and can work out for longer and at a higher intensity. You may feel light-headed or sluggish if you workout without eating first.
So, what should you be eating?
Firstly, make sure that you are well hydrated by drinking plenty of water, and keep sipping water throughout your workout.
Try to eat a small snack 30 – 60 minutes before exercising. Eat healthy carbohydrates (the petrol for our bodies) such as wholegrain cereals or wholegrain toast. Wholemeal pasta, brown rice and Greek yogurt are other good options. Avoid saturated fat as this will digest more slowly in your stomach making you feel sluggish.
If you exercise first thing in the morning and don’t have the time to wait after eating, then make sure you eat an apple or banana 10-15 minutes before exercising.
Here’s a few ideas and recipes for snacks which are great to eat before exercising (remember these want to be light snacks and not heavy meals, so just small portions!):
1 Greek yogurt with nuts, chia seeds and berries on top
2 Banana or apple dipped in peanut butter
3 Scrambled egg with avocado on toast: Toast a slice of wholegrain bread. Scramble one egg. Cut an avocado in half and mash one half with a fork. Spread over the toast and pop the scrambled egg on top
4 1 boiled egg with a slice of wholegrain toast
5 A slice of wholegrain toast with peanut butter
6 A sandwich made with wholegrain bread and a couple of slices of lean meat
7 Chicken with brown rice and steamed vegetables:
To cook the rice, place 1 cup of brown rice in a pan of boiling water with a little salt, reduce to a simmer for 15 minutes or until rice is cooked. Place 1 tsp each of paprika, cumin, garlic powder, salt and pepper in a bowl. Take 4 small chicken fillets and rub them in the dry mixture making sure they are well covered. Spray a frying pan with olive oil spray and fry the chicken over a medium/high heat, for about 5-6 minutes each side. When cooked, turn off the heat and allow to rest for 5 minutes. While the chicken is resting, place broccoli or whichever veg you like in a microwavable dish with 3 tbsp water. Cover with clingfilm and microwave for 3 minutes. Cut the chicken into slices and serve with the brown rice and vegetables. This recipe will serve 4, so either adjust if it’s for a pre-workout snack or save the rest for later.d this recipe?
8 Omelette made with 2 eggs:
Whisk the eggs in a bowl. Heat olive oil spray in a frying pan. If adding anything to your omelette such as mushrooms, ham, full-fat cheese or smoked salmon, add this to the pan first and let it cook a little. Pour the egg mixture over the top and leave until nearly set. Flip it over to cook the other side. This can also be made frittata style in a baking dish or individual ones in a muffin tin. These can be kept in the fridge ready to grab when needed.
9 Yummy protein balls:
Put the following ingredients into a bowl and mix well to combine: ½ cup 100% peanut butter or almond butter, ¼ cup honey or agave nectar, 1 tsp vanilla extract. Add in the following ingredients: 2 scoops of protein powder (whichever flavour is your favourite), 4 tbsp flaxseed/linseed, ½ cup rolled oats, ½ tsp cinnamon, 1 tbsp chia seeds, 4 tbsp desiccated coconut (optional). Mix until well combined. You may need to use your hands. Form into 10 small balls, adding a little more nut butter or sweetener if needed to help the mixture stick. These can be kept in the fridge, in an airtight container, for up to one week, meaning that they are great to grab and go if you don’t have a lot of time. They can also be frozen for up to two months.
10 Spicy fajita rice dish:
This is another great meal to eat before exercising, but only have a small amount otherwise you will be too full and sluggish to want to work out.
Heat a little olive oil spray in a frying pan. Add 1 chopped onion, 1 diced green pepper and 1 diced red pepper and fry for 5 minutes. Then add 2 crushed garlic cloves and fry for another minute. Chop 500g of chicken fillet into small chunks and add to the pan along with 2 tsp fajita spice and 1 tsp chilli flakes. Cook for a few minutes until the chicken is cooked through. Add in 300g brown rice (dry) and a 400g tin of chopped tomatoes together with 700ml chicken stock, freshly ground black pepper and 150g tin of sweetcorn (drained). Mix everything together well, reduce the heat and leave to simmer for 30-40 minutes until most of the liquid had been absorbed, and the rice is cooked through. This is great to reheat the next day for lunch or your evening meal.
At the end of the day, find what works for you. Look for snacks where you feel fuelled but not full. What works for some people won’t work for others. Just remember not to overeat before exercising.
Caroline & Hannah xx