Although you can exercise and stretch after eating, you will not want to eat large meals right before a workout. Eating a lot of food too close to a workout may cause you to experience discomfort during exercise and affect your performance. Good timing of the foods you eat can give you the energy you require to optimize your exercise routine.
Plan your meals around your stretching or exercise routine. Small snacks can be consumed up to an hour before exercise, small meals can be eaten two to three hours before workouts and large meals are permitted three to four hours prior to exercise. Not eating anything can make you feel tired and hungry during exercise, whereas eating too much may produce cramping and gastrointestinal issues.
You should not eat anything an hour before you exercise. It takes about 30 minutes to one hour for a small snack to be digested. If you have a snack an hour before exercise, you'll have enough energy for exercise without causing an upset stomach. If you plan to have an intense workout session, you may want to time your snack for two hours before exercise.
Your pre-workout snack should not be high in fat. Instead, choose a food high in carbohydrates and low in fat. This type of snack can be digested quickly and keep your blood sugar at a normal level. Potential snacks to consider before your stretching or cardio workouts include crackers with peanut butter, a sports drink, a muffin with glass of milk, fruit and yogurt, and a bagel with jelly.
Although you should not eat right before stretching or exercising, you should drink plenty of water. Four hours before your workout, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends you drink at least 16 to 20 ounces of water. Drink eight to 12 ounces of water 15 minutes before you exercise; and three to eight ounces for each 20 minutes of your exercise session. If you are exercising for more than an hour, use a sports drink to replenish.