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What the Health?

The Varsity’s health and fitness hotline
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GRACE XU/THE VARSITY
GRACE XU/THE VARSITY

Question: What and when should I eat before a workout? Is it different for cardio or weights?

For a pre-workout meal, you should focus on a balance of macronutrients: protein, carbohydrates, and low quantities of healthy fats, as they are necessary for the body to function.

Protein aids in building and repairing our muscle tissues, which is necessary for a healthy lifestyle. Some protein-rich foods that one should include in their diet are nuts, eggs, and lean meat. Carbohydrates and a low quantity of nutritious fats help people replenish their energy sources, which can increase the intensity of their workouts.

Given the negative impact of some fats and carbohydrates, one should have healthy versions of these macronutrients such as oats, avocados, and beans.

This balance shifts depending on the type of workout you want to do: cardio or weight training. While cardio workouts call for a higher carb ratio, weight training requires a different diet — often high in calories — which changes depending on whether you eat before, during, or after working out.

It is important to note that you should stay hydrated and have a complex meal containing carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats two to three hours before a workout.

However, if you are eating an hour before you exercise, you should ensure that the meal is easy to digest. It’s also a good idea to see a personal nutritionist because each person’s body is unique and has different needs.

Send in your health and fitness questions to [email protected] for a chance to be anonymously featured!