What Should I Eat for Doing Pilates?

Pilates involves a lot of work on the core and mat. Many people wonder what and when to eat before doing Pilates exercises. There is no special diet for Pilates. However, there are a few things to consider about food choices as you prepare for your workout.

When and How Much to Eat Before a Pilates Session

Since there is so much emphasis in Pilates on using your abdominal muscles, you will want to have a fairly empty stomach.

Your core will be fully engaged and it's best that you have eaten only lightly at your last meal. You will probably tolerate it best to have a small snack an hour or two before your class. 

Another consideration is that you need to eat so you have good energy for your workout. If you skip breakfast or it's been too many hours since you've eaten, you may run out of energy in the middle of your workout. It's best to eat at least a light snack.

What to Eat

To fully take advantage of Pilates as a mind/body fitness method, you will want to take a look at what kinds of foods keep you feeling the most balanced. Avoid anything that will make you gassy or you know will give you a queasy stomach.

Complex carbohydrates and lean proteins, with a little high-quality fat, are good choices for a pre-Pilates meal as they sustain energy better than simple carbs or sugary things. A protein shake that uses fruit can be a convenient, light choice.

You can adjust the portion size to suit you. Yogurt with fruit or a small portion of oatmeal can provide complex carbohydrates. Peanut butter on whole grain bread or on fruit in another quick option with complex carbs and protein.

Drinking Before and During Pilates

Pilates is light to moderate intensity exercise and does not usually create a need for special sports drinks, but you will want to be hydrated.

Water is always a good choice. So it isn't sloshing in your stomach, drink a large glass of water 90 minutes to an hour before class. Your body will have time to eliminate the extra and you'll start off well-hydrated. Have a bottle available to sip during class when you feel thirsty.

What to Eat After Pilates

You want to make sure your body has enough of the nutrients it will need to strengthen your muscles and replenish your energy. Have another protein smoothie after class or light snack that includes protein as well as carbohydrate.

Your diet between workouts will depend on whether you have a goal of weight loss or you simply want to eat what is best for your body. While you can use Pilates plus cardio exercise as part of a fat-burning workout program, experts note that few people lose weight from exercise alone. You will need to work on reducing your calorie intake overall.

Doing Pilates can inspire you to fuel your body better with nutritious food while eliminating empty calories. That can have health benefits whether you wish to lose weight or not. Choose a diet that follows the current U.S. Dietary Guidelines.

Sources:

Physical Activity for a Healthy Weight. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/physical_activity/index.html.

Timing Your Pre- and Post-Workout Nutrition. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. http://www.eatright.org/resource/fitness/exercise/exercise-nutrition/timing-your-nutrition.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2015 – 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 8th Edition. December 2015.

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