You always want to get the most out of your workout. How do you ensure that your diet helps -- not hinders -- your exercise efforts? We asked the experts to share their nutrition tips to improve your performance.
1. Don't exercise on an empty stomach
Carbohydrates are your body's fuel supply, so load up before you start working out. "For most people, eating easily digestible carbs is the best way to fuel before exercise -- they're less likely to cause digestive problems and studies have suggested that eating 45g of carbs pre-exercise leads to a lower calorie count over the course of the day," says Laura Williams
, diet and fitness expert and a qualified personal trainer.
2. Choose pre-workout foods wisely
"Eating a snack containing carbohydrates, water and a small amount of protein before your workout will keep you fuelled and improve your recovery times," explains personal trainer and nutrition expert Tom Eastham.
Good choices include a slice of wholegrain toast topped with peanut butter, turkey or chicken sandwich, oats, granola, yogurt and fruit.
3. Allow time to digest
Eat your meal at least two hours prior to your training session or else it won't have the chance to digest properly. This is particularly true for meals containing protein. "If you eat 2-3 hours before, your food should have digested and turned into energy to fuel your workout," says Eastham. Before this, you'll probably feel tired and your workout won't be as effective. If you need a small pre-workout snack for a quick boost
, choose something light -- like fruits -- around twenty to thirty minutes beforehand.
4. Avoid these foods
Cut back on high-fat foods in the build-up to exercise. "Fat takes a long time to digest and should be avoided around exercise as you'll require quick digesting foods that will provide energy sooner rather than later," Eastham explains. Go easy on high fiber foods, too -- they can all upset your digestion. Low carb protein bars and shakes are another no-no as they won't give you enough energy.
5. Fuel up post-workout
After your workout, eat a small snack or light meal that contains protein and carbs, such as a cheese sandwich or a small pasta dish with some lean meat, says Williams. It is tempting to reward yourself with a high-calorie treat, especially when you've been 'good'. But if you're trying to lose weight, the extra calories mean you'll have wiped out your efforts.