The real answer depends largely on your goals, the length and type of workout (yoga vs. endurance running) and whether you're an average exerciser or an elite athlete looking to shave a millisecond off of your last long-distance run. Athletes in the latter category spend more time calculating, measuring and weighing food than the average person needs or wants to. For the majority, the dietary advice below will help you get through your workout, burn fat and have enough energy left over to make it through a busy work day without falling asleep at your desk.
Many diet books suggest exercising on an empty stomach to burn the most fat. However, to maximize your fitness results, it's best to eat something before and after your workout. The majority of your intake should be carbs, along with some protein.
Have a small snack like a yogurt or a breakfast bar about 30 minutes before you leave for the gym. If you exercise after work, you can do the same. Most people make the mistake of skimping or skipping breakfast and lunch and are starving by mid-afternoon, with no energy for a workout at the gym.
In general, carbohydrates are your body's preferred energy source. Avoid high-fat foods, which take longer to digest, drink plenty of liquids and eat foods that you know won't upset your stomach. The best pre-workout meals combine a healthy carbohydrate with some lean protein.
The sooner you eat after your workout the better, even if you're trying to lose weight. Healthy carbohydrates prevent you from feeling tired later in the day, but be sure to include some protein for muscle repair, too.
Try different foods at different times to see what works best for you.
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