Diet and exercise are each vital components of a healthy lifestyle. While these components tend to be looked at separately, diet and exercise are actually interconnected.
According to the American College of Sports Medicine, adequate food and fluid should be consumed before, during and after exercise. Following that advice can help men and women maintain their blood glucose concentration during exercise, which allows them to maximize their performance and improves their recovery time.
Some people understandably may feel that eating before exercising seems counterintuitive, as food may contribute to feelings of sluggishness that would make it hard to maximize a workout. But what people eat, and drink, prior to working out is important, as the right foods can make a positive impact while the wrong foods can have the opposite effect.
The American Heart Association and the ACSM recommend hydrating with water prior to working out. The ACSM recommends drinking between two and three cups of water two to three hours before exercising. Adults accustomed to working out in the early morning can try to wake up earlier so they can give their bodies time to hydrate before they begin exercising. It's also important to continue hydrating during a workout, as the ACSM recommends drinking between 1⁄2 and one cup of water every 15 to 20 minutes during a workout (amounts can be adjusted based on variables such as the weather and individuals' body sizes). After a workout, the ACSM recommends drinking two to three cups of water for every pound lost during the exercise session.
Food also plays a vital role in maximizing a workout and improving recovery time. The AHA recommends fueling up on healthy carbohydrates, such as whole-grain cereals, whole-wheat toast or low-fat or fat-free yogurt, two hours before exercising. Doing so might pose a problem for early morning exercise enthusiasts, and in such instances the AHA advises eating a piece of fruit such as an apple or banana five to 10 minutes before beginning a workout. Avoid saturated fats and a lot of healthy protein prior to working out, as it takes longer for these fuels to digest in the stomach. Until foods are digested, muscles may not get all of the oxygen and energy-delivering blood they need during a workout, so it's best to stick with foods that the body can digest more quickly.
The Mayo Clinic notes that it's also important to make food a part of your post-workout routine. Eating a post-workout meal that contains both carbohydrates and protein can aid muscle recovery and replace glycogen stores that help increase energy levels after working out.
The most effective way to exercise involves healthy foods, which can improve performance and lead to quicker post-workout recovery.