‘Cardio’ is a common term you will hear in the gym. It helps to lose weight, improve stamina, and stay fit and healthy. These exercises have lots of physical and psychological benefits. It reduces the chances of type 2 diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, depression, and more.
It is recommended that you do cardio exercises for at least 150 minutes every week in order to reduce various health risks. You can choose light cardio exercises like jogging, running, cycling, etc. using elliptical trainers or treadmills.
Many people also do HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) as a part of their cardio. In the morning, most people try fasted cardio, thinking that it will be beneficial for fast weight loss. However, studies have shown that having a low-carb meal before the cardio provides better results than eating nothing at all. You need the energy to exercise and you can get this from food; otherwise, you will hit the wall very soon. Therefore, you should eat the right kind of food before your cardio sessions.
Best foods to eat before cardio
The type of food you should take before cardio depends on the type and timing of your exercise. If you are exercising in the morning, then you will need some carbohydrates as your body burns calories when you sleep. So, you need the energy to exercise after waking up. In the early morning, you should take some light snacks.
If you are exercising in the afternoon or evening, make sure that you eat something a few hours beforehand so that your body gets the time to digest food properly. You should also consider the type of food you are eating before exercising. If you are doing running for 30 minutes or jogging, you should choose some light snacks and if you are going to do HIT (High-Intensity Training) then you should eat a bit heavier meal. Here are the best foods you can eat before cardio.
1. Wholegrain bread
Wholegrain bread is always better than white bread even though the latter tastes better. Wholegrain bread is slowly absorbed by the body and will release energy slowly. So, you will get a constant energy supply while exercising for 20 minutes or more. Wholegrain bread has a lot of health benefits:
- It is full of nutrients and includes vitamins, antioxidants, minerals, proteins and fibers which are very good for a healthy body.
- It lowers the risk of heart disease and stroke.
- It reduces obesity and so if you are exercising to lose weight, wholegrain bread will help in your mission.
- It reduces the chance of type 2 diabetes as it doesn’t contain any sugar.
You can add some peanut butter on the bread which will give you protein and some healthy fat as well. Thus, wholegrain bread is actually perfect to eat before your cardio session.
Oatmeal is a very good pre-workout snack meal and it is very nutritious. Oats are whole-grain food and so, like whole grain bread, it releases energy slowly. Steel-cut or crushed oats are the best options as they are not processed and you will get the best nutritional value from it.
- Oats not only contains carbohydrates, but also fibers, healthy fats, and protein. So, besides giving energy, it will make you feel fuller.
- It is rich in antioxidant that helps to lower the blood pressure.
- It contains beta-glucan that helps to reduce the cholesterol level and maintain the blood sugar level.
If you are starting your cardio workout later in the morning, then, it’s better to have oatmeal about an hour before your exercise. You will get the energy you need to sustain the workout session.
You need carbohydrate before cardio and banana is an ideal source of carbohydrate. Bananas are rich in starches and sugars. So, no matter whether you are jogging or doing the HIIT training, a banana will give you the energy to carry out your workout. Banana also has the following health benefits:
- Banana is rich in soluble and insoluble fiber, so it helps to slow down digestion and makes you feel full for a long time.
- It is good for your heart and lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease.
- It helps in digestion and builds up metabolism.
- It has high iron content that reduces the risk of having anemia.
Banana is an instant energy booster and something that is readily available. You can just grab a banana before workout and feel energized during cardio sessions.
4. Protein Shake
Protein shake consists of protein powder and milk or water. By drinking a protein shake before cardio you will be able to achieve your fitness goal easily.
- A protein shake can help to build stronger muscles as it contains protein.
- It helps to recover muscles after intense cardio.
- It gives the energy to complete your workout without getting tired.
You can get protein powder in different health stores. Try to have a protein shake before exercising and you will see that you have achieved your fitness goal quite comfortably.
5. Energy Bar
Most gym goers like energy bar as a pre-workout meal, mainly because it’s portable and easy to eat without needing any preparation. These have high protein content. You will find various energy bars in the market. Here are the benefits of having an energy bar before workout:
- Energy bar contains essential amino acids that help to build muscle mass when doing cardio.
- It provides energy and so you won’t feel tired during your cardio workouts.
- It helps you to lose weight as it contains only a few calories.
You should buy energy bars with low sugar content and about 25 to 40 grams of carbohydrates. That way you will be able to maintain a healthy weight.
6. Sports Drink
For small exercise sessions, you only need to drink water. However, if you are exercising for a long time then you will need a sports drink to boost your energy level. The sports drinks contain carbohydrate and sugar to give you energy. The other benefits of a sports drink are:
- It contains sodium that helps the body to retain water, so you won’t get dehydrated during your cardio sessions.
- It contains potassium which is very important for the body. During HIIT sessions, people lose a lot of potassium through sweating; so sports drink can help to compensate the potassium loss.
- It contains amino acids that help in muscle recovery.
You should look for sports drinks that contain less than 10 grams of sugar. That way, you won’t have to worry about your calorie intake.
Apples are rich in carbohydrate and these are fibrous as well. So, you will get energy and won’t feel hungry for a long time. Some of the health benefits of apple include:
- Apples reduce the cholesterol level and so are good for the heart.
- It reduces the chance of diabetes by maintaining the blood sugar level.
- It reduces obesity and so can be consumed regularly without the risk of gaining weight.
Apple is a quick snack that you can have before your exercise. It will give you energy and you won’t feel hungry as well.
8. Green Salad
If you are doing cardio later in the day, then you can opt for a plate of green salad. You can include your favorite green veggies and toss some olive oil over it. The green salad is very nutritious and will help you to lose weight. Here are some other advantages of having a green salad:
- It improves the immune system and so the chance of diseases will be lowered.
- It is fibrous and will make you feel full.
- It contains healthy fat that is good for the body.
Salads are fibrous, so you should eat it at least one hour before your workout session in order to give your body the time to digest it. That way, you won’t feel uncomfortable during the cardio session.
9. Sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes are very nutritious and contain healthy carbs. One sweet potato can contain 38 grams of carbohydrates. It is great for eating before a serious workout. Some benefits of sweet potatoes are:
- It contains low sugar content, yet can satisfy our sweet tooth.
- It contains lots of antioxidants that keep the muscles and immune system strong.
- It is rich in fiber and vitamins, and so is an extremely healthy choice.
Sweet potatoes taste good and help you to stay healthy. With so many health benefits, you should include it in your pre-workout meal.
Chickpeas are a great energy booster. No wonder many people eat chickpeas after fasting. It is rich in carbohydrates and proteins; so helps to attain energy. Chickpeas also provide the following benefits:
- It helps to build and recover muscles faster after a workout.
- It lowers appetite and so you won’t feel hungry.
- It will help you to lose weight fast.
You can grab a can of chickpeas or add it to your salad. You can also choose to bake the chickpeas. You should have it a few hours before the workout.
If you are doing cardio regularly then you should eat the right food before each session. Exercising without eating at all isn’t good for health and you won’t be able to lose weight faster by doing so. Include these foods as your pre-workout meal and see the benefits of it.