What and When Should I Eat Before a Morning Walk?

Fuel Your Morning Walks Before and After

Making a Smoothie
Making a Smoothie. SelectStock/Vetta/Getty Images

Question: What and When Should I Eat Before a Morning Walk?

What should you eat before a morning exercise walk, and when should you eat it? When you talk to your friends, everyone seems to have a different opinion. Is it a matter of personal preference?

Answer: A Little Fuel Is Good for a Morning Walk

Your body needs fuel in order to have good stamina and get the most out of exercise, including walking.

But too much food awaiting digestion can leave you feeling uncomfortable. Each person has different needs and tolerances, and it also depends on how far and how fast you'll be walking. You may not need any fuel for a 15-minute easy stroll with your dog. But you'll need some for a longer, brisk exercise walk.

Don't Start on an Empty Stomach

You should have at least a light snack before morning exercise as your body has been fasting all night. Even if you are a person who normally skips breakfast, give your body some fruit juice or sports drink to get at least a few calories to work with. Without any available calories, you are less likely to work out as intensely or for as long as you could. If your goal is to get exercise with a brisk walk, you should have a light snack or breakfast drink.

Wait Three to Four Hours After a Large Meal Before Working Out

If you love a big breakfast, your body will take three to four hours to digest the fats and proteins.

It is better to have only a light breakfast before a morning walk and save the bigger meal for afterward. Otherwise, your body will divert blood that could be going to your muscles to your stomach so it can work on digestion. If you ask your muscles to kick in for a good workout, you divert the blood from your stomach and digestion slows down.

Eat a Small Meal One to Three Hours Before Exercise

If your breakfast is a light, low-fat meal you can workout within one to three hours and get the benefit of the calories with less risk of stomach distress.

Opt for a Carb Snack 30 to 90 Minutes Before Exercise

If you want to eat close to your workout time, focus on easily-digested carbohydrates for a quick fuel boost. Ideas for this snack include the classic banana, fruit juice, a low-fat bagel or English muffin, or low-fat yogurt.

Experiment to See What Works for You

People vary in how well they tolerate eating or not eating before exercise. Foods that sit well in the stomach when not exercising may produce nausea or gas when combined with exercise. Experiment to find what works best for you.

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