Think biking on an empty stomach will improve your performance. Think again! Just as you would put fuel in your car before a road trip, you
should put fuel in your body before a race or even intense training. Our bodies need adequate fueling for the following reasons: to prevent
low blood sugar which can cause light headedness, fatigue, and blurred vision; fuel your muscles with carbohydrate as well as feeding your brain;
and help settle your stomach by absorbing gastric juices and warding off hunger.
You can play around with what pre-exercising snack works best for you. Each person reacts differently to different foods. Cyclists tend to have less gastro-intestinal problems because they maintain a more stable position than runners who jostle their intestines. Your best bet is to start with something simple and familiar to snack on along
with some type of liquid. Work your way up to 200-300 calories within the hour of your event/training.
Choose a snack that is primarily carbohydrate because it becomes more readily available for use by your muscles. Here are a few things to keep in mind when choosing a snack/meal. Anything eaten within an hour might give you a jolt of energy and ward of hunger but it doesn't replenish your glycogen stores. If you are exercising for less than an hour pick a high carb, low fat choice, but if you are going to be training hard for over 60 minutes a little protein and fat will sustain your energy. Be careful when consuming soft drinks, jelly beans, gels or other sports drinks because the quick sugar may revert to low blood sugar and the symptoms that result. Be sure to allow for digestion time...more for higher fat foods and more for intense exercise. Most of all drink adequate fluids to keep you well hydrated.
Still not sure what to choose....let me give you a few examples.
Pre-morning workout - two slices of toast with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter and banana or1 cup oatmeal with dried cranberries, honey, and chopped pecans
Pre-afternoon workout- homemade sports drink (see recipe below) and bowl of cheerios with lowfat milk
Homemade Sports Drink ( makes 1 quart)
1/4 cup of sugar
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/4 cup of hot water
1/4 cup of orange juice plus 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
31/2 cups of cold water
Be creative with different juices to keep things interesting!
200 total calories
about 50-70 calories per 8 ounce serving (comparable to
most sports drinks)