What foods should I eat before an extreme workout, like cycling? I have been going to the cycling class for about 2 months and I get a headache that is out of this world. I bought a heart rate monitor and I eat carbs before. Wondering how much should I eat. – Nic
Here’s what you should eat ahead of time:
3-4 hours prior (unless am class) – balanced meal with complex carbohydrates, lean protein, healthy plant or fish fats in modest portions. See our article How You can Control Portions to Lose Weight and Get Lean! for recommended servings. Drink 16 fluid ounces of water.
30 minutes prior – simple carbohydrate source such as a small banana or single serving of graham crackers/pretzels. These would provide about 15-18 grams carbohydrate. Drink 8 fluid ounces of water.
Here’s what you should consume during the class:
For an intense exercise bout that lasts an hour you may consider sipping on a glucose-electrolyte beverage, aka traditional sports drink. These provide simple sugars for energy and potassium and sodium for muscle contractions and nerve impulse stimulation, as well as hydration for temperature regulation and nutrient processing.
My concern is for your headaches. Be sure to consult your physician if your headaches present with other symptoms such as neck stiffness, queasiness or vision impairment. Headaches that occur during or after strenuous exercise may be due to underlying causes, not just exertion.
You say you have a HR (heart rate) monitor. Hopefully you are using it as feedback to keep yourself in an aerobic zone below 85% estimated maximum HR as recommended by the American Heart Association.
– Debbie J., MS, RD
Do you have a question about your diet or nutrition?