Question: I play tennis several times a week. I never eat beforehand, but my regular partner — a personal trainer — says I should load up on carbs before exercising. What do you think? Should I eat before working out and, if so, what foods are best?
Dr. Hibberd's answer:
Generally eating before exercise is not usually a good idea. By the time the nutrients are absorbed, your physical demands have long passed. You would be wiser to hydrate yourself before tennis and maintain that hydration during your exercise. Water is fine; no need for glucose-containing drinks touted by advertisers unless you are going to be exercising for prolonged periods.
Carb loading has little benefit for most of us, and may actually defeat the benefits of our exercise sessions. If carbs are used, use simple carbohydrates — fruit juices are fine — in moderation and avoid complex carbohydrate use pre-exercise. Eat after you exercise or finish eating at least 2 hours before you exercise.
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