Just like a car, if you try to run on empty, you won’t get far. When and what you eat can affect your exercise performance and the way you feel while you’re exercising. Coordinate meals, snacks and drinks to make the most of your exercise routine.

Time it Right

Eating too much before exercising can cause you to feel sluggish or have an upset stomach. That’s because your muscles and your digestive system are competing with each other for energy resources. On the other hand, not eating before you exercise can be just as bad. Low blood sugar levels that result from not eating can make you feel weak, faint or tired, and your mental abilities may be affected as well, making you slower to react. Aim for 150 to 200 calories about 30 to 60 minutes prior to your routine.

The Right Fuel for Best Performance

You’ll feel better when you exercise if you eat foods high in carbohydrates and low in fat. Your body stores excess carbohydrates as glycogen, primarily in your muscles and liver. Your muscles use stored glycogen when needed for energy. Good carbohydrate sources include cereals, breads, vegetables, pasta, rice and fruit.

Eat After Your Workout

To help your muscles recover and to replace their glycogen stores, eat a meal that contains both protein and carbohydrates within two hours of your exercise session. Protein isn’t your body’s food of choice for fueling exercise, but it does play a role in muscle repair and growth. Refuel with another 150 to 200 calories after your workout.