Home Health TipsNutrition in sport What to eat before, during and after exercise?

What to eat before, during and after exercise?

by Georgia Ede
Published: Last Updated on

An adequate diet for any athlete who wants to improve their performance should not be based solely on the number of calories ingested, but on the amount of macronutrients .

The proteins , the fats and  carbohydrates are the main macronutrient that will provide total calories needed.

For a correct diet, proteins should make up between 20 and 25%, as well as fats and carbohydrates between 45 and 55% of the diet.

Said macronutrients are essential to adequate food , but in this case we will focus primarily on carbohydrates because they provide fuel or energy for exercise.

Not all carbohydrates are the same, the healthiest are those that come from unprocessed natural foods, such as vegetables, fruits, legumes and cereals.

The glycemic index of a carbohydrate will tell us how quickly a food is metabolized and raises the level of glucose in the blood . The glycemic index value does not indicate that a food is better or worse, but that it will help us to follow a balanced diet. The important thing is to know how to use them at all times.


Glycemic index of some foods …
 Glucose 100 Wheat bread 50
 Maltose 100 Wheat Pasta 50
 Gluten-free white bread 95 Integral rice 50
 Chips 95 Rye bread 40
 Honey, Jam 85 Avena 40
 Cornflakes 85 Broad beans, Green peas 35
 Tapioca 85 Dairy products 35
 Cooked carrot 80 Fruit compote (unsweetened) 35
 Cookies 70 Natural fruits 30
 Rice70 Berries 25
 Pastas70 Chickpeas, lentils, beans 25
 Corn70 Artichokes 20
 Cooked potatoes70 Soy milk 20
 Raisins65 Nuts 15
 Bananas60 Vegetables 15
 Pizzas60 Meat, fish and shellfish 0


  • A carbohydrate for every occasion. 

In general, foods with low GI increase satiety and help to lose weight, on the contrary, foods with high GI provide quick energy, so we must know how to use them and take advantage of each food.

Both of them are useful for the athlete; Some will be more suitable for before exercise, others for during and others for afterwards.

Before exercise:

In the days leading up to a few hours before the start, the diet should be rich in low GI carbohydrates .

Foods such as pasta, rice, fruits or legumes are absorbed more slowly, which means that glucose is released slowly and continuously and the body is filled with energy by recharging the muscle and liver stores of glycogen.

A few hours before it is advisable to eat some medium GI food such as banana, raisins or watermelon; since some studies indicate that the risk of hypoglycemia is reduced when beginning the exercise.

During exercise:

The correct thing would be to have the energy tanks fully filled with the indications mentioned above.

Also, if you are going to do resistance exercise or for more than an hour, you can resort to drinks or supplements of high GI carbohydrates that are quickly absorbed, such as glucose or maltose, which will provide us with extra energy in a short period of time. weather.

After exercise:

If the exercise has been very intense and long enough, the energy stores will have been emptied; therefore, you must replenish muscle glycogen with high-GI carbohydrates such as energy drinks, white rice, roast potatoes, etc.

It is also recommended to use drinks based on salts, proteins and amino acids to facilitate hydration , recovery and regeneration of muscle tissue after exercise.

Finally, you should not forget that you not only need to focus only on carbohydrates to function but you must also eat proteins , healthy fats , vitamins , minerals and fiber to complete a balanced diet .

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