The fuel you put into your body
right before, during and soon
after exercise can make all the
difference to how beneficial
your workout really is. Fuel
up smart and you will see how a good
workout can become a great one.
Before a workout
If you're one of those who think that
going for a cardiovascular workout early
in the morning on an empty stomach
helps burn more fat, abandon the
thought now. "You must have something
to eat and drink before you exercise
to ensure that you are well-hydrated
and have sufficient blood glucose to
fuel your muscles," says Heath
Matthews, physiotherapist with Elite
The pre-workout meal should be high
in carbohydrates and low in protein, fat
and fibre. This will ensure that the food
is digested and absorbed sooner.
"You can have either a baked potato,
apple or banana, orange, chikoo or
sweet lime before you head out for your
workout in the morning. Make sure you
eat this at least 15-20 minutes before
the workout," says Leena Mogre, director
Leena Mogre's Fitness.
Eating before exercise is especially
important if you train in the mornings.
"Your body uses up a lot of its energy
reserves during the night to repair damaged
muscle tissue. If you don't replace
this, you run the risk of running out of
energy during your exercise session
and not achieving your fitness goals,"
During a workout
It's estimated that a 45-minute workout
burns 500 calories, which means
the body burns a lot of energy and fluid
in that period and needs to be replenished
adequately, says Dr Sunita Dube,
nutritionist, Aryan Hospitals.
Keeping yourself well hydrated during
an exercise session is very necessary.
"Drink at least 500 ml of water
during your session to avoid too much
fluid loss," says Dube. Alternatively, you
can also sip on a carbohydrate-rich energy
drink during training, which will have
the dual benefit of replacing lost fluids
and maintaining blood glucose levels.
After a workout
What you need most within 45 minutes
of an exercise session, according to
Matthews, is a balanced meal that will
replace lost fluids and carbohydrate
levels as well as provide protein for the
body to rebuild damaged muscle fibres.
"This is because you need to replace
the lost blood glucose in your system.
If you don't do this you may start feeling
tired or sleepy later in the day, and
not be alert enough," he adds.
"A fruit like banana along with a
direct source of protein egg whites,
sprouts, pulses or paneer is a great
way of replacing protein in the body,"
Getting the times right
Eating at the correct time is as important
as what you eat.
If you train in the afternoon, you
should ensure that you eat a good meal
2-3 hours before your workout. As for
after a workout, a good meal within 45
minutes after training is a must.
"For those who feel a little peckish
before bedtime, a glass of milk with a
few biscuits may help fill the gap and
help you sleep well," advises Matthews.
Pre-workout (morning): Fruit or cereal or biscuits.
Post-workout (morning): Mix of protein and carbohydrates
like sprouts or paneer or khakra.
Pre-workout (evening): Fruit or salad or roti-sabji.
Post-workout (evening): Soya chunks or paneer or
sprouts or dal cheelas.
Pre-workout (morning): Cereal, sandwich or fruit.
Post-workout (morning): 2 eggs or 3 egg whites +
cereal or chicken.
Pre-workout (evening): Egg roll or cereal bar or fruit.
Post-workout (evening): Grilled chicken + a vegetable
or 3-6 egg whites + vegetable salad or fruit.