Earlier in my training regime, when I tracked my eating item by item on paper, my trainer used to jokingly tell me that whatever I ate prior to coming to gym was all gone, when I looked exhausted after an exercise. He would always tell me that food, especially those refined carbs, would be burned away as fuel very quickly during gym. It was thus important to fuel up before gym.
EDIT: This applies more to those in my current stage – weight training. If you are in the weight loss phase, don’t eat too much, as it would mean you will gain more calories to get rid of, resulting in less weight loss. Remember I am currently too light for my trainer, so I can’t not eat – I might even lose more weight!
The best time is about 2 hours before the session. That’s when I can load up without any anxiety. My trainer’s original instructions a couple of months back was to eat 4 slices of wholemeal bread an hour before gym. (I can hear your groan – wholemeal bread?? How exciting. But really, I enjoy it. I enjoy times when I can eat carbs without guilt).
It seemed to improve my energy, and to some degree my weight. But I varied this a bit and found a nice formula:
2 hours before gym: 2 slices of wholemeal or multigrain bread, with peanut butter or marmalade jam. Optional: coffee or tea, one cup.
1 hour before gym: 2 slices of wholemeal or multigrain bread, same as above, or with a slice of cheese. Water.
Don’t eat too much towards the 1 hour mark – or risk indigestion during training. When I followed my trainer’s original instructions to eat 1 hour before gym, that’s what happened. It’s not his error per se, but perhaps because my stomach isn’t used to it. Either way, I find the 2-hour plan much more effective. It gives me energy for the session, and keeps my weight up…. just before gym, isn’t that convenient. It is also nice to be “snacking” on carbs at 5pm and 6pm.
And in case you’re wondering, after gym I’m definitely hungry again.