Cardio exercise is good for the overall health. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 150 minutes of cardio are recommended per week. You can choose from brisk walking, jogging, swimming or other exercises. No matter which physical exercise you choose, make sure to prepare yourself correctly before working out by eating foods of quality nutrition.
What to Eat Before Cardio
Foods to eat before cardio depend on your exercise time.
Cardio in the Morning
The body burns certain numbers of calories and nutrients during sleep. If you want to do cardio in the morning, you need to have something to eat first. A breakfast loaded with carbs should be consumed about 20 minutes before starting to work out. If you are planning to do an intense and prolonged workout longer than 40 minutes, you should add proteins to your breakfast as well. Then you should eat at least one hour before exercise.
Fruits snacks in the morning are always a good thing; apple, banana and orange are great choices. Carrot sticks can also be added. Some might prefer a sports drink or a glass of juice, which is OK too. In cases of prolonged cardio training, you should add yogurt, cheese, eggs as well as a small piece of meat which will provide you the necessary amount of proteins.
Cardio in the Afternoon or Evening
What to eat before cardio if you are going to work out during the afternoon or in the evening? It is recommended to eat your last meal about two to three hours before working out. Your meal should include about 150 calories of carbs and about 60 calories of proteins.
You can eat almost anything, in moderated portions. You can choose a bowl of oatmeal topped with raisins or a slice of whole-wheat bread with an apple. For longer workout, a glass of milk and a small tuna sandwich can provide the protein you need. However, foods with fat should be avoided as they will take much longer time to be digested and absorbed.
24-Hour Meal Plans for Cardio
Here are 3 24-hour meal plans for cardio for your reference.
Morning Training Session
6-6:30 am: Eat an apple or banana.
6:30-7 am: Train for about half one hour.
8 am: Directly after the training, consume a protein shake and a banana. This will provide your body with the necessary amount of nutrients.
12 am: For lunch eat a tuna mayo baguette.
3:30 pm: Drink another protein shake and eat mixed nuts and fruit, avocado for example.
7pm: For dinner, salmon, three different types of vegetables and rice are enough.
Afternoon Training Session
7 am: If you want to train in the afternoons, your breakfast should consist of an omelet, cheese, and tomato. You can have 2 slices of rye bread as well.
11 am: What to eat before cardio? Drink a protein shake and eat a banana. You can have a cup of orange juice 40 minutes before the workout.
1 pm: Train for about one hour.
2 pm: Immediately after training, drink a protein shake. Lunch should consist of a salad and whole grain bread.
4 pm: You can have a snack which can consist of mixed nuts and seeds and yogurt.
7 pm: For dinner, eat chicken meat, mixed vegetables, and noodles.
Evening Training Session
7 am: Eat boiled eggs, a large bowl of oats and rye bread.
12 am: For lunch, you can have a chicken risotto with brown rice.
3:30 pm: You can have baked potato with cheese and beans.
6 pm: Train for an hour.
7 pm: Immediately after training eat a banana and drink a protein shake. You can have your dinner from 7 to 8 pm which can include a turkey meatball with an onion sauce. Mixed vegetables like broccoli, zucchini or cauliflowers are always a good choice.
Nutrition Guidelines After Cardio
You have known what to eat before cardio, then what to eat after cardio? Now your goal is to replenish the muscle glycogen rapidly. You should also stimulate protein synthesis which is crucial for tissue growth and repair. Consume approximately 50 grams of carbohydrates and 10-15 grams of proteins in the first 30 to 45 minutes after training. With sport drinks and energy bars, this can be easily achieved. It has been estimated that muscle protein synthesis is up to three times greater when carbohydrates and proteins are consumed during this period of time, compared to 2 hours after training.