The foods you eat before you go for a walk can either give you the fuel for an enjoyable and productive walk, or make you feel sluggish and sick. When you walk in the evenings, advance planning is key. Decide in the morning what time you’ll walk that night so you can plan your day’s meals accordingly.
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If you choose the right foods, eating before walking can give you the energy and stamina you need to complete your entire route. Eating a small meal before you exercise also gives your body more time to digest your food before you go to sleep, which can help you maintain a healthy weight. However, eating before a walk can leave you feeling weighed down. If your schedule is flexible, walk before you eat dinner. If your walk will interfere with your normal dinner time, eat small meals before and after your walk.
Eating Before a Walk
Avoid eating foods that are high in protein or fat, since these foods can leave you feeling uncomfortably full. Your body will also work too hard at digesting these foods to allow you to walk at your normal pace. Eat a bowl of vegetable soup or a piece of fruit and some simple carbohydrates, such as a bag of pretzels or a handful of crackers. A little protein will be beneficial if you’re hungry or feel low on energy, so eating half a bagel with peanut butter can also be a satisfying pre-walk snack.
Eating After a Walk
If you finish your walk a few hours before bedtime, you’re free to eat a regular meal. Choose lean fish or chicken as the main course, and eat a side salad or a baked potato stuffed with vegetables as a side dish. If you’re hungry after your walk but it’s near bedtime, eat a smaller snack that includes protein. A handful of nuts, a container of yogurt and fruit or several pieces of cheese and a few crackers will keep you full until breakfast.
Food isn’t the only thing you need to ingest before a walk. Drinking water before your workout will help energize you and ensures you won’t become dehydrated, but drinking too much can give you a painful cramp. Drink 1 cup of water per hour during the two hours before you begin your walk. Take a bottle of water along with you and take a sip every 10 minutes or so. If you walk for more than an hour or sweat heavily during your walk, rehydrate by drinking a sports drink that includes electrolytes when you reach home.