How to Create Meal Plans for Working Out


UPDATED: Monday July 9, 2012 10:08 AM

From the YMCA

Eating plays an important role in working out. In fact, Medline Plus states that a poor diet will have a negative impact on athletic performance, while a well-balanced diet will improve it. Therefore, before you plan your workouts you should create meal plans for working out to ensure you can perform at your optimal level.

Step 1: Eat complex carbohydrates one hour before you work out. Complex carbohydrates including brown rice, brown pastas, whole grains and legumes are the most important source of fuel for your workout. Complex carbohydrates in particular allow a steady release of glucose into your blood stream, which will support you throughout your workout. Simple carbohydrates, such as table sugar, candy, white rice and white pasta will likely cause hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar, which can negatively affect performance. Therefore, be sure to include a serving of complex carbohydrates in your pre-workout meal.

Step 2: Include sources of protein into your meal plan for working out. Most Americans consume enough protein in their daily diets, so there is no need to increase your protein intake with a higher consumption of meats, beans, dairy products or protein supplements. However, you should be sure to eat your protein source after your workout, so that your body has readily available sources of protein to start rebuilding muscle.

Step 3: Incorporate adequate amounts of water into your workout meal plan. Medline Plus states that sweat losses can exceed several liters per hour; so adequate replacement is necessary to perform at your peak. Your amount of water intake depends on the intensity of your physical activity and you must replace all fluids lost. Continue drinking cold water until your urine is clear, which is a sign that you are well hydrated.

Tips and Warnings: Watch for symptoms of dehydration and hypoglycemia which include lightheadedness, dizziness, headache, fatigue, weakness, dry mouth and decreased urine output.