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To Eat or Not to Eat.

Creating an exercise regimen for yourself is challenge enough, but knowing what to eat or not to eat is another question entirely. Eating before and after a workout can be good for performance, fitness and health. But what to eat depends on how long you exercise, the type of workout, your experience and your overall health.


Eating before you exercise does several things. It helps settle your stomach and avoid hunger while fueling your muscles. (This is true with food eaten days, as well as hours before, so a balanced daily diet is crucial.) And it helps prevent low blood sugar, also known as hypoglycemia, which causes nausea, dizziness and headaches.


When preparing for a workout, try simple, healthy foods. A sliced banana with cinnamon on whole wheat toast, greek yogurt with trail mix, apple wedges with almond butter or a smoothie are all options that can fuel your body throughout your workout.


What you eat after a workout is as important as what you eat beforehand. Your body will be in recovery mode, so nutrient-dense dishes packed with protein will repair and build muscles and replace lost glycogen stored in the muscles. Grilled chicken with mixed vegetables will fill you up without making you feel bloated. A veggie omelet with avocado delivers protein and fiber to aid muscle recovery and growth. Avocados help your body better absorb the fat-soluble nutrients, like vitamins A, D, E and K that are in your veggies. Other options include salmon with sweet potato or tuna fish with hummus and spinach on whole wheat.


Above all, staying hydrated is key, before and after your workout. Drink lots of water to replace what you lose through perspiration, and always drink at least 6 - 8 glasses of water a day. Even slight dehydration can cause side effects like fatigue and headaches. Drinking more water will make you feel better, and may also help you eat less.


If you aren’t use to eating before or after exercising, you can train your body. Becoming fit takes time, and so does learning to eat properly. Talk to your doctor to make sure your diet and exercise regimen are designed for long-term health.


Dr. James C. Strobel MD
Gastroenterology of Southern Indiana

Dr. Strobel joined GSI in July of 1997. He received his undergraduate degree from Indiana University in Bloomington, and his medical degree from Indiana University in Indianapolis. Following this, Dr. Strobel completed his residency in Internal Medicine, and after three years of additional training, completed his fellowship in Gastroenterology at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. Dr. Strobel is board certified in both Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology.


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