I just started back teaching Spinning Classes and it got me thinking about pre-workout foods. There are two questions I hear all the time from spinners: “Should I eat before a morning spin class? and What do I eat and when?”
Let me start with “Should I eat before a morning spin class?” There are two main philosophies on the answer to this question. Most dietitians, nutritionists and medical professionals favor you eating something in the morning before working out to stabilize your blood sugar levels to avoid dizziness or you feeling weak during your workout. The second viewpoint comes from researchers who are studying how your body functions during exercise in a fasted state. There are a lot of people who work in the fitness industry that believe there is enough evidence to advise people to exercise on an empty stomach because the body will burn fat more easily.
I think eating something before your morning spin class is the way to go and this is why. While you were sleeping your body kept burning calories somewhere up to 1000. For your body to burn fat, you need glycogen, which comes primarily from carbohydrates, which by the way is our main source of energy. When you take that spin class, burning anywhere from 400 to 600 calories, without replenishing your glycogen first, particularly after burning all those calories overnight, you will be using up all of your glycogen stores in your body, which is not ideal if you are trying to lose weight. What happens is by the time you finish your workout, your body will be in starvation mode which may force you to eat as much food as possible, to store as energy in your fat cells.
“What do I eat and when?” According to MayoClinic.com, eating too much before you exercise can leave you feeling sluggish while eating too little may not give you the energy to keep you feeling strong throughout your workout. If you plan on eating a light breakfast/snack, eating one hour before your class should suffice. So if you’re taking a 6 a.m. spin class, you should eat around 5 a.m. I know some of you are saying, “there is no way I can think about eating at 5 a.m. when I am barely making it out the door,” but giving the potential outcome you may want to. Think about trying a small snack like a banana or some other type of fruit.
The most important thing is to find what works best for you. Experiment with different foods and amounts and pay attention to how you feel during and after you finish working out.
Here are some of my favorite morning pre-workout foods. Note – It is a good idea to stick to carbohydrates with the option of adding some protein when you need a little more fuel.
Fruit. I go for bananas or apples in the morning, but any kind will do!
Cereal. My cereal of choice is organic raison bran. I can’t do dairy so I use almond milk.
Whole-wheat toast or bagel. On occasion I will have a whole-wheat bagel or toast with some protein, for example, one egg or some type of nut butter such as peanut, almond, or cashew.
Smoothie. I blend 1 banana and a cup of any fresh and/or frozen fruit with some almond milk or 100 percent apple juice.
In addition, don’t forget to stay hydrated. I aim for at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water each day, while drinking an extra 4 to 8 ounces of water for every 15 minutes of intense exercise.
www.MayoClinic.com: Eating and exercise: 5 tips to maximize your workouts