Before exercise, eat a meal or snack containing some carbohydrate as this is the most important source of energy for the body during intense physical activity. Carbohydrate is stored as glycogen in the muscles and liver but these stores are quite small and need topping up on a regular basis. As well as providing energy for the
muscles, carbohydrate also provides energy for the brain and central nervous system and a lack of carbohydrate in the diet may cause tiredness and a lack of coordination and concentration during exercise.
Carbohydrate can be found in a variety of different foods and rich sources include breakfast cereals, bread, pasta, potatoes, rice etc. Other foods such as beans (haricot, kidney etc.), peas and lentils, fresh and dried fruit and milk and yoghurt also provide carbohydrate.
It is best to allow approximately 2 – 3 hours after eating a meal and 30 – 60 minutes
for a snack before exercising to prevent indigestion.
For most people there is generally no need to eat solid food during exercise, but it is important to take fluids on board to replace sweat losses.
This of course is different for high level endurance athletes. For example, those performing long training rides of several hours on a bike may eat solid foods to provide carbohydrate energy as well as drinking fluids.