This Is What You Should Eat Before Exercising

We all know the feeling: you finally muster up the motivation and time to work out when suddenly your stomach starts growling like a Bengal tiger. Should you eat before exercising and deal with the gross feeling of food sloshing around in your stomach, or should you wait and risk feeling lightheaded while you're working out? According to CNN, this depends on a number of factors, but the simple answer is to eat something (always my favorite answer). CNN reports that the closer you get to your workout, the lighter the food should be, with two to three hours beforehand being the best time to snack on something. Intensity should also be taken into account — maybe don't eat two slices of pizza right before heading to your HIIT class. Or just skip that HIIT class, because yikes.Plenty of research has been done demonstrating the benefits of post-workout meals, but the field seems to be divided on pre-workout snacks until recently. A study in the American Journal of Physiology, Endocrinology, and Metabolism looked at ingestion of protein before exercise, with participants receiving either carbs or a carb-protein combination before and while working out. The results showed a correlation between eating protein before exercise and building muscle.

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In fact, protein shows up pretty often in studies on this subject. A study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise gave participants either chocolate milk or a carbohydrate drink without protein after exercise, and the results suggested a link between building muscle and drinking milk as well. The general consensus seems to be that the best pre- and post-workout snacks involve a combination of protein for building muscle and complex carbohydrates for energy.

All this is good to know, but what if you're too hungry to be making decisions like what to make? Luckily, we understand the struggle. Here are some ideas to get you started:

1. Protein Smoothie

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It's a staple of athletes' diets for a reason. The Daily Burn has some delicious recipes over here.

2. Whole Grain Toast with Turkey (or any protein source)

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Pretty simple. It's got the complex carbs and protein, and feel free to add avocado or peppers to spice it up.

3. Bananas and Peanut Butter

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Bananas for energy and peanut butter for protein. You might feel like you're in elementary school again, but remember how much energy you had back then?

4. Greek Yogurt

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Unleash your inner sorority girl.

5. Oatmeal and Fruit

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I like this one because it's suuuuper easy. For those of us who aren't fans of the whole cooking thing, but a little snack isn't going to cut it.

Happy exercising!