I often get asked this question, especially by mums that join me at Run 4 Mum, Run Fit Circuits classes in the evening – often turning up after a long day at work, getting the babies to bed and dashing out of the door!

Squeezing in the pre and post workout snacks without getting abdominal pains or being so hungry you suffer from early fatigue takes some planning and knowledge.

So what do we all need to consider?

1) Exercise diverts blood flow from the digestive system to the working muscles so it’s important to avoid big meals heavy in fat, protein and fibre before exercising, as they are harder for the body to digest.

2) Plan to eat 3 hours before you workout to allow food to be digested and absorbed and emptied from our stomach.

3) Remember to Balance your diet – vary your choices, get your 5 a day, cut down on fatty foods, keep well hydrated.

4) Eat plenty of Carbohydrates – the most important macronutrient for active mums! It’s important to keep your stored carbohydrate (glycogen) topped up each day

5) Drink plenty of fluids

Guidelines for early morning workouts

Eat a light, quickly digested carbohydrate breakfast 30 minutes before you start your workout. (see ideas below)

6-7.00am workout

Eat adequate carbohydrate the day before

Eat a small snack or light breakfast before you start (see below)

Can’t face food? Try a glass of water and fruit juice or squash and water or a glass of low fat milk

Drink water throughout your workout

Eat 50g of Carbohydrate after your workout (within 2 hours)

9.30-10.00am workout
Eat adequate carbohydrate the day before
Eat a light or regular breakfast before you start
Drink water throughout
Eat a small snack 30 mins to 1 hour after your workout or eat lunch within 2 hours of finishing
Eat well for the rest of the day – get the balance right!

Guidelines for lunchtime workouts

12.30-1pm workout
Eat your normal breakfast
Take a mid morning small snack
Drink water throughout
Eat a late lunch or small snack with carbohydrate within 2 hours of finishing
Eat well for the rest of the day – get the balance right!

Guidelines for afternoon / evening workouts

Eat a small snack before you exercise – especially if it has been 3 hours or more since your last meal / lunch.


5-6.00pm workout

Eat your normal breakfast
Eat a mid morning snack
Eat a main meal at lunchtime
Eat a mid afternoon snack
Drink water throughout
Drink a glass of fruit juice after exercise
Eat a light meal or small snack after your workout

7-9.00pm workout
Eat your normal breakfast
Eat a mid morning snack
Eat a main meal at lunchtime
Eat a mid afternoon snack
Drink water throughout
Drink a glass of fruit juice after exercise
Eat a light, low fat snack after your workout
OR
Eat a light meal late afternoon
Eat a low fat, late night snack

(extracted from Energise for Exercise for You, The Active Person’s handbook by Penny Hunking SRD)

Fluids

I’ve said before how important it is to drink before, during and after exercise. During exercise, drinking large volumes of fluid can help to speed gastric emptying but can also cause cramping, especially if consumed all at once. Try taking small amounts of fluid every 15 to 20 minutes.

After exercise

Post exercise re-fuelling is often neglected part of the programme – yet often the most important in terms of how well your body adapts to the training completed and recovers for the next session.

For optimal recovery after an endurance workout, it is important to eat low fat, carbohydrates to replace the stored energy (glycogen) that was used up doing the workout. Of course the amount of refueling needed depends on the intensity and duration of the workout.

For best results, the British Dietetic Association recommends aiming to eat about 1g carbohydrate/kg body weight within the first two hours after exercise.  With light exercise 50g of carbohydrate will be enough. (www.bda.uk.com/foodfacts/sportsfoodfacts.pdf)

A little bit of protein at every meal as part of your balanced diet is important too e.g. meat, poultry, fish, eggs, beans & pulses. Strength training can increase the requirement for protein, but following a simple balanced diet should fulfill these needs.

Although an important Macronutrient, Fat should be consumed in moderation and the consumption of saturated fats should be carefully monitored. Try not to succumb to cakes, biscuits and crisps!

Light Breakfast ideas

200ml grapefruit juice
1 slice of toast
or
200ml orange juice
3 garibaldi biscuits
or
2 rice cakes
fruit spread/jam
or
1 boiled egg
2 slices toast
1 glass low fat milk

Normal Breakfast Ideas
200ml grapefruit juice
30g Porridge (low fat Milk)
1 slice of toast, 2 tsp honey
or
1 glass (200ml) fruit juice
1 bagel
1 small banana
or
½ bagel, 9 date
1 low fat fruit yoghurt
or
1 glass fruit juice
1 muffin + jam, 1 Banana
or
Lean, grilled bacon and tomatoes
2 medium potato cakes
135g bakes beans
1 glass (200ml) fruit juice

Ideas for a light meal
1 150g jacket potato with 135g bakes beans
or
sandwich with 2 slices bread, low fat filling e.g. lean meat/salad
1 flavoured yoghurt
1 satsuma
or
50g wholemeal roll
low fat filling
1 currant bun/ fruit bread
1 x 160g orange

Ideas for small snacks
1 glass (200ml) orange or apple juice or unsweetened pineapple juice
2 small slices of wholemeal bread
1 cereal bar
1 wholemeal scone
2 digestive biscuits
2 handfuls sultanas
2 rice cakes and jam
30g dried fruit
1 crumpet and honey
4 heaped teaspoons (18g) bournvita made with 1/3 pint (200ml) low fat milk
½ bagel
400ml or skimmed or semi skimmed milk
1 small portion (25g) cornflakes
3 Ryvita
1 small (45g) wholemeal bap
1 small fruit scone
6 dried apricots

Ideas for getting 50g of Carbohydrate post workout

4 Weetabix
175g Jacket potato
1 ½ pitta bread
230g boiled pasta
150g boiled rice
370g oriental noodles
9 Ryvitas
5 Digestives
78g Raisins
300g Grapes

Article by by Melissa Lorch Bsc Fit 4 Mum Ltd

SOURCE: Energise for Exercise for You: The Active Person’s Handbook by Penny Hunking SRD

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