You may be thinking, it’s only an hour, it doesn’t matter what I eat before or after this spin class. Well, it just takes that one workout where eating Chipotle an hour before class sounded like a good idea to convince you that fueling for workouts does make a difference. And, trust us, the air diet before a workout doesn’t work either (unless you are planning to take a trip to Bonkville). And yes, that did happen to me before my first Soul Cycle class last week.
So here's the plan we recommend for fueling for your next spin class:
1. Preload: Eat a normal meal 2 hours before the workout. Then, take an energy gel 15 minutes before class starts. We prefer XRCEL for its slow release glucose which helps avoid that crash and burn feeling. Also, starting 2 hours out from the workout, start sipping from a water bottle. If you’re feeling dehydrated from a previous workout (or a night out!), add some sports drink to the bottle.
2. Consume During the Workout: Always bring an electrolyte-laced water bottle to class with you - with coconut water or a sports drink. We like to bring a calorie stash to the bike as well. If your preload goes perfectly, you should be ok for a one hour session, but you never know when your body is going to need an extra boost, like when instructor says, turn it up a notch, we’re about to climb K2. Be prepared and have a shot of caffeine from a gel or a bit of a quick bite of an energy bar. Pro tip for the ultra-competitive: open the wrapper of the bar before class starts so that you don’t miss a pedal stroke.
3. Recovery: Finish that bar or grab a smoothie with protein as soon as you can after class. This refueling effort is necessary, even if the bike intervals make eating the last thing you want to do. The 30 minutes after a workout are an important for not only muscle regrowth, but help avoid that all too frequent post workout famished feeling (and ensuing binge). When we skip this step, we’re ok for about 45 minutes, and then have been known to eat everything in sight - healthy or not. Let’s just say it’s best to avoid that and it’s consequences.
As for those early morning classes. Skip that meal 2 hours before (duh!) and have an espresso shot with your energy gel. And be ready, you’ll most likely need those mid-workout calories - climbing the Himalayas or not.