Eating Before vs. After Exercise

You've just concluded your work day and want to exercise before dinner. But you're a little hungry. Should you eat before exercising or wait until afterward?

Dietitians and fitness trainers have a variety of opinions on the subject. Consider what type of exercise you are going to do, and to listen to your own body. Also drink plenty of water before, during and after your workouts.

Eating Before Exercising

If you exercise in the morning before breakfast, sports experts recommend having a little something in your stomach so that your body has energy to get through your workout. Keep it light, especially if you are going to be running or jumping. A small carbohydrate snack is a fast source of energy.

Try a banana, a bagel, toast or yogurt. Stay with foods you already know your body likes. Skip acidic foods. Wait 10 to 30 minutes after eating before to avoid muscle cramps.

Eating After Exercising

Some fitness trainers say eating after exercise is great for those wanting to lose weight. Your increased metabolic rate after working out allows your body to use all the energy and fats from your meal immediately.

Some even say that's the time to eat treats like chocolate or chips. More sensibly, a Mayo Clinic dietitian recommends eating protein and carbohydrates within two hours after your workout to help your muscles recover.

Good choices for post-workout snacks include nuts, fruit, protein shakes or a hard-boiled egg. Sports drinks or juice are also great for providing carbohydrates if you aren't hungry enough for a meal.

Before and After

When taken altogether, the advice from fitness experts and dietitians is that it's best to eat both before and after your workout. A little snack before and usually larger amounts afterward. Gauge the quantity and type of food to what time of day you exercise, the duration and intensity of your program.

Most importantly, listen to your body, follow your intuition, have fun and stay fit.

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Judi Sheppard Missett, who turned her love of jazz dance into a worldwide dance exercise phenomenon, founded the Jazzercise dance fitness program in 1969. The workout program, which offers a fusion of jazz dance, resistance training, Pilates, yoga and cardio box movements, has positively affected millions of people. Benefits include increased cardiovascular endurance, strength and flexibility, as well as an overall "feel good" factor.  For more information go to jazzercise.com or call (800) FIT-IS-IT.

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