Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Fueling Your Exercise

Fueling up with a snack is an important part of exercise. For those of you who are trying to lose weight, it may seem counterintuitive; however, it is actually quite helpful. You have to think about your body like a furnace. You must give it fuel if you want it to burn! People who have a snack before exercising tend to have more energy, so they work harder and sometimes longer. They also feel better during their session. The net calorie burn is usually even bigger after having a snack. So for those of you who are trying to lose weight, or just want a more powerful workout, don’t forget to grab your snack!

You may be thinking that you can’t eat before you workout because it causes an upset stomach. For this reason, you do have to experiment and see what works best for you. However, as a general rule, we are not talking about a five-course meal! Just a 100 to 250 calorie snack will do. To give you an idea, a banana has 110 calories. It really does not take much to meet that calorie goal.

The other part of this puzzle is to decide when to have your snack. Generally, it is recommended to have your pre-workout snack 30 minutes to 2 hours before you begin your session. A lot of the timing depends on how well you tolerate food before exercise, and how big your snack was. For me, a small snack about 30 minutes prior to my session works best. However, everyone is different so you have to experiment to find out what works best for you.

Good pre-workout snacks definitely contain carbohydrate. Shoot for about 30 grams of carbohydrate, or more if you plan on exercising for longer than an hour. A snack that contains protein or fat may be helpful to keep you satisfied longer, especially if you are eating your snack more than 30 minutes prior to exercise. Refer back to the post about healthy snacks for ideas.

So what is your favorite pre-workout snack?


  1. This is good information. I have a related, but slightly off-topic question, so maybe it's better suited for a future post. What's your recommendation for fueling DURING an extended workout (e.g., a half-marathon), including intake of fluid + carbs?

  2. Busy-Dad-E: I would be glad to do a post on that for next Wednesday!

  3. I like cereal with a banana before I go bike riding. Busy Dad-E's request is a good one that I can use for extended bike rides.

  4. Erin'sMom: That is a good choice for a pre workout snack! I hope next week's post will be helpful to you!