Your diet can have a fundamental impact on your fitness regimen, whether you're getting ready to run a marathon or walk around the neighborhood. And while guidelines can help, one of the best ways to choose your pre-gym meal in the morning is to keep a food and workout journal so you can avoid habits that make you feel sluggish and stick with food choices that boost your energy and performance.
The Right Mix
The best pre-workout breakfast includes plenty of energy-boosting carbohydrates and a small amount of healthy fat. You should avoid high-fiber foods before you head to the gym because they can give you stomach cramps or diarrhea. To maintain your energy during your morning workout, Harvard Health Publications recommends drinking an 8-ounce glass of water -- rather than a costly sports drink -- before you start.
Good morning workout meals include whole-grain cereals, bread or toast with low-fat milk or yogurt and fresh fruit, hard boiled eggs, fruit smoothies with a handful of nuts or a banana spread with peanut butter. If you eat a light breakfast before your workout, be sure to fuel up within two hours after your workout with a high-protein, high-carbohydrate meal to replenish your body's glucose stores.
Don't Stop With Breakfast
Though what you eat before you head to the gym in the morning is important, what you eat the rest of the day is equally important, says David L. Katz in "O, The Oprah Magazine." That's because what you eat during the day before your workout is what actually gives your body the energy it needs to produce glycogen in your liver and muscles, the nutrient your body burns during your morning workouts. A balanced all-day diet, including lean protein, low-fat dairy, whole grains and lots of fruits and vegetables, will give your body the fuel it needs for your workout.
Time It Right
When you eat is as important as what you eat, according to the American Heart Association. If you're heading to the gym in less than an hour, grab a small snack to boost your metabolism and give your body an energy burst. If you eat too much before your workout, you can end up feeling sluggish or crampy, but bypassing food completely may make you too dizzy and tired to have an effective workout.
- American Heart Association: Food as Fuel: Before, During and After Workouts
- My Family Doctor: Exercise: Should You Eat Before or After?
- Oprah: What Is the Best Preworkout Meal?
- Center for Young Women's Health: Sports and Nutrition -- Fueling Your Performance
- Harvard Health Publications: Eating to Boost Energy
- Harvard Health Publications: Trade Sports Drinks for Water