Saturday, April 4, 2009

To Eat or not to Eat!!

How early should I eat before working out? When should I eat after my workout? Questions, questions and more questions!

Needless to say, the common sense that prevails is to eat at least 1-2 hours prior to any exercise activity if it is a heavy meal and something light like fruits etc. can also be consumed 30 minutes prior to the exercise activity.

The reason for this can be explained on the basis of exercise physiology, which deals with the study of body response during exercise. As per the science, during exercise, there occurs “blood shunting” where blood from the non-target systems are diverted to the active target systems like the musculoskeletal, cardiovascular cardio-respiratory systems more.
Now, depending on the kind and amount of food consumed, the food can stay in the stomach for more than 2 hours sometimes. In such cases, if there is not enough blood flowing the system, it becomes difficult to complete the digestion and absorption processes, and short-term and long-term problems could arise. Also, the presence of food could exert unnecessary pressure on abdominal walls which could lead to complications. Light foods like fruits, due to their intrinsic nature, pass through the digestive system quickly and easily, and hence do not cause any problems.

Similarly post-exercise, give some time for the heart and the lungs (cardiovascular and cardio-respiratory systems) to return the blood back to the digestive system, so that any food ingested can be processed and absorbed efficiently. This return process usually takes atleast 30 minutes to an hour to complete depending on the preceding activity and the nature of cool down. However, during this time water intake can be done to replenish the body fluids. Relaxation procedures in the cooling down routines help to get to the state of equilibrium faster.

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