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Eating Before Exercise

Answered by Dietitian, Juliette Kellow BSc RD

Q: I have my evening meal at around 6pm and then go for a run at 8pm. I usually feel hungry when I get back in but just drink water and go to bed. Am I leaving enough time between eating and exercising?

A: This sounds fine and if it fits in with your lifestyle, I don’t see any benefit in changing your routine. Most fitness experts recommend having a healthy meal around two hours before exercising, or if this isn’t possible, a carb-rich snack such as a banana or bowl of high-fibre cereal with semi-skimmed milk about one hour before. If you leave too long between eating and exercising, your blood sugar levels are likely to be low and this can may make you feel dizzy, weak or faint, as well as leaving you low on energy so that you don’t get the most out of your workout. In contrast, if you eat anything too close to the time you exercise, you may well feel uncomfortable, with the result that your performance is affected.

When you get back from your run, you might want to have a carb-rich snack to restore blood sugar levels and to help prevent the hunger you are currently experiencing. Again, a banana or a slice of wholemeal toast with honey are good choices. If this sounds like a sensible option, I suggest you save around 100 calories during the day to have when you get back from your run.

Finally, remember to keep hydrated – it’s great that you’re drinking water when you get home, but you should also be having plenty of fluid before and during exercise, too.

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