Exercise & Your Appetite: The Truth

The formula for weight loss (exercise + diet = pounds off) sounds easy enough, but if it really were, we'd all look like Miss Svelte Stair Sprinter.

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| September 27th, 2011


Do I need to eat while I work out?

If it's an intense, 90-minute-plus session, yes. "You need to replenish the blood sugar that feeds your brain and muscles," says Nancy Clark, R.D., author of Nancy Clark's Sports Nutrition Guidebook. Carbohydrates (sport drinks, a banana) are best because your body digests them quickly, replenishing energy. Aim for 100 to 250 calories per hour after the first hour.

I've heard A.M. workouts on an empty stomach burn more fat. True?

It's a long-held theory, but a recent review of research in Strength and Conditioning Journal found that the body burns roughly the same amount of fat regardless of whether you fast or eat before you work out. In fact, exercising on empty depletes glycogen (stored glucose you use for energy), which may cause you to lose muscle as you burn. Don't skip breakfast!

Do certain foods cause cramps?

Researchers aren't entirely sure what causes those annoying belly aches, but most evidence does point to pre-workout eating habits. "Greasy foods and those high in protein and fiber are especially hard to break down, so they can result in discomfort," Reznik Dolins says. "And high-impact exercise can jostle your stomach and its contents, so to avoid that upset, wait until any meal is fully digested, about two hours, before hitting the gym."

What can I eat to up my stamina?

Try sipping beetroot juice. We know, ewww. But it may help you exercise up to 20 percent longer, a study from the University of Exeter shows. Beets contain a compound that seems to aid oxygen supply to muscles, so you last longer.

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