Questions On Exercise
Pilates and Eating

Pilates and Eating
By Liz Lipski, PhD, CNN

I never know whether, or what, to eat before doing Pilates to max out my workout but not make me crampy. What do you suggest?

The effects of eating before doing Pilates differ from person to person. For me, I feel best when I have a meal or snack of complex carbohydrate with some protein before working out. (My personal favorite these days is kefir on homemade granola with berries.) Now, I can eat minutes before I work out and still feel great, but this obviously doesn't work for everyone. It's important for you to know your own body and respond to your body's individual needs.

In general, I advise clients to eat a mixed carbohydrate and protein meal one to two hours before working out. Carbohydrates provide energy for glycogen storage and for your workout. Protein doesn't get used during the workout but helps with muscle growth and repair and will help keep your blood sugar levels even. On the other hand, if you've eaten a huge meal, it's best to wait three to four hours. Your body requires a lot of energy for digestion and a lot of energy for Pilates, so you won't get your best workout.

While you want to stay hydrated (before and during a class), it's difficult to activate your abdominals and pelvic floor if your stomach and/or bladder are full, so find a happy medium. Try a cup of herbal tea, diluted juice, a bit of smoothie or a piece of fruit before a workout to stay hydrated.

If you get dizzy or woozy during or after Pilates, it's probably because your blood sugar (glucose) levels are too low. If that's regularly the case, then you are probably someone who should have a snack or light meal before Pilates.

For almost everyone, it's a good idea to eat something with a carbohydrate within one to two hours of working out to replace the glycogen you used. Good choices include fruit, smoothie, whole-grain crackers or lightly steamed or sautéed veggies. —Liz Lipski, Ph.D., CCN

Liz Lipski, Ph.D, CCN, is Pilates Style’s Nutrition Editor.


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