4 ways to tweak your pre- and post-exercise meals
Time your pre-workout meal.
Eating too close to a workout can bring on stomach pain. Have a snack 30 minutes before a moderate workout, advises Stacy Sims, Ph.D., exercise physiologist and nutrition scientist at the University of Waikato in Hamilton, New Zealand. And wait at least an hour to exercise vigorously—when we do functional studies of the stomach, we see that within one or two hours, most of what we eat and drink has been emptied out of the stomach, adds American Gastroenterological Association expert John Kuemmerle, MD, a professor of medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University. Try toast with peanut butter or almond milk mixed with a shot of espresso and protein powder.
Eat it slowly.
When you rush, chances are you’re not chewing that food thoroughly. “Your stomach has to work harder to break it down into digestible pieces,” says Tracy Lockwood, R.D., a New York City-based nutritionist. This can lead to bloating and stomachaches. It should take at least 20 minutes to finish a meal.
Even if you’re getting probiotics through foods like yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut, you may not be maxing out your gut health. You need prebiotics, or food for that healthy bacteria that lives in your gut. Resistant starches are one of the best sources. Try adding black rice, green bananas, purple potatoes, and tiger nuts to your diet.
Check your protein powder.
Many protein powders or bars contain inulin or chicory root, a type fiber that’s difficult to digest, says Ryan Andrews, R.D., a fitness and nutrition coach with Precision Nutrition. If you’re having stomach issues, read check the labels of workout snacks for these two ingredients.