I have always walked a fine line between how much and how little I eat before workouts. It’s hard to judge, but often, I have found that less is always better. This is different for everyone, so don’t listen to a word I have to say, if you like to be full during training sessions, or going in to training sessions. This is just what I’ve learned over the years.
When I played soccer, I felt like I could eat almost anything, and still have a good practice or a good game. I didn’t worry too much about how much or how little I ate, or even what I ate. But, when I started training for my first marathon, second semester senior year of college, I was kind of shocked at how little I actually knew about fueling my workouts. I would end up getting the “runs” on runs, and seeking the world’s best bathroom somewhere in nature…where are the leaves? (haha!). It took a lot of learning that for me, less is more. I can work harder, when I have less in my stomach.
I also, actually ended up getting skinnier too, this way. haha! I’m not sure what it is, or why, but I realized, that with a light pre-training snack, workout 1, and light recovery meal, or lunch, and then workout 2, and then a big dinner works best for me.
I almost always try to go into a workout, “kind of” hungry. This way, I know my stomach won’t cramp, and I won’t end up with digestion problems, or needing to go to the bathroom. Which is a sucky feeling.
So, my motto is “less is more”.
Before morning training session 1:
- banana w/ a tablespoon of peanut butter or so
- just a banana
- a bar (harmony bar, bonk breaker, bobo’s oat bars, hammer bars are some of my favorites)
- two slices of peanut butter toast (whole wheat bread)
I just switch off between all of these. My variety is in the different flavors of bars. All of my pre-workout morning fuel is between 200-350 calories. I can take in a higher calorie amount if I’m hopping on the bike, if I’m running or swimming, I stick to the lower range.
The hard part is recovering and then staying full enough, but light enough, that I can go into my 2nd workout of the day with no stomach problems. Currently, because I’m unemployed, I have more flexibility, and I generally, just have a light recovery smoothie, and then 1-2hrs later, get my 2nd workout in.
My light recovery go-to smoothie right now is – Osmo Active Recovery for Women w/ 1 cup skim milk, and 1 banana. It’s light, only about 200-250 calories, which is perfect going into another workout. Nothing too heavy. If my 2nd workout is a bike workout, I might have a little more, like oatmeal, or another bar.
So, this week’s tip, is “less is more”. Fuel your workouts, but keep things on the lighter side, so as not to create stomach issues. It’s a fine line between stomach issues and bonking, and it can take a lot of trial and error to figure out what’s best for you. But, after 8yrs of endurance sports training, I have finally figured out what works best for me! :)
Do you better with less or more fuel going into workouts?