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Health at Every Size - these are the buzz words around the internet these days. Are you healthy? Do you want to be healthier?

What is health? The World Health Organization defined health in its broader sense in 1946 as "a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity". Being healthier doesn't mean losing weight. To you it might mean:

We are very happy to announce that we have a Registered Dietician on staff who will be writing our Health At Every Size series as well as answering a reader's question each month. You can read about Shari's philosophy and experience on our staff page. If you have a question for Shari, please email us at

Disclaimer: This advice is not intended to be a substitute for, nor does it replace, professional medical, health or nutritional advice.

What to eat before and after exercise

Ready to sweat? Hold your horses - before you start exercising, you may want to get fueled up first. Wondering what to eat and how much food you need if you're a casual exerciser? Check out the following guidelines.

Do you really need to eat before exercise?

Well, that depends on how long you're going to exercise, the intensity of your workout and the environment in which you'll be exercising. If you're going for a 20-minute stroll, you will only need a tall glass of water but if you'll be exercising longer than 45 to 60 minutes, then you'll definitely need some nutrition boost.

'But wouldn't eating before exercise negate its benefits?'

Again, that depends: if you stuff yourself or eat the wrong food before your workout, it's likely going to hamper your performance and prevent you from achieving your health goals. But on the other hand, if you exercise on an empty stomach and your blood glucose levels plummet while you're working out, not only will you lose your drive to keep exercising, but you may also start feeling nauseated and dizzy.

Eating the right food in the right amount prior to a long walk will help:

  1. Provide your body with a source of slow-release energy.
  2. Slow down the rate at which your muscles utilize glycogen - this should keep fatigue at bay longer.
  3. Ward off hunger especially after you're done working out.

The best pre-workout snacks:

  1. 5 to 25 minutes to go: Half cup of mixed fruits or a small banana.
  2. 30 minutes to go: Apple, banana or pear slices with natural nut butter.
  3. 1 hour to go: One hard-boiled egg with a fruit or a small bowl of oatmeal with some nuts.
  4. 2 hours to go: Some Greek yogurt or a homemade green smoothie. You can also opt for a chicken sandwich or a small bowl of pulses.

Keep in mind that the above snacks will probably be inadequate if you're training hard or you're a professional athlete.

The worst pre-workout snacks:

For the best workout experience, avoid foods that are:

  1. Rich in sugar - these would cause your blood glucose levels to go on a roller-coaster.
  2. Loaded with fat - fat takes longer to be digested and may cause nausea.
  3. Heavy or spicy - these can contribute to stomach burn.

Recovering after a workout

Unless you've been doing some pretty strenuous training, you don't need any food after your workout. The reason is that your muscles will have plenty of time in between your workouts to fill up their glycogen stores. And you'll only need water after a 30 to 45 minutes workout. Now if you've been sweating buckets (over 1L of sweat per hour), then you may need some homemade sports drinks - simply mix about 7oz of fresh orange juice with some honey and 1/4 teaspoon of salt for a healthy recovery drink.


  1. If you'll be exercising early in the morning, either have breakfast before you workout or just after if you can't stand eating immediately after you wake up.
  2. If you've planned your walk after lunch, have a well-balanced lunch at least 30 minutes prior to exercising. For instance, you could have a small steak (1 or 2oz) with a side of greens and some mashed sweet potato (about 1 small potato) plus a tall glass of water.
  3. If you'll be exercising late afternoon, have a small snack before (a handful of fruits and some nuts) and make your dinner your post-workout meal.
  4. Down a tall glass of water before exercising.

Submitted by: Shari

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