Q. If I eat before I run in the morning, I get cramps. If I don't, I feel tired, and I know I'm not working out as hard as I could. Is there a solution?
A: "You're probably having a difficult time because after not eating for 10 or 12 hours, your muscles have reduced their stores of glycogen, the form of carbohydrate they rely on for energy," says Barbara Lewin, R.D., a sports nutritionist in Fort Myers, Florida, and founder of sports-nutritionist.com. Her solution: Have one or two carb servings-for instance, a few graham crackers or a lowfat yogurt sprinkled with granola before bed to front load your muscles with glycogen.
But for optimum performance, she says, you need to have a late-night snack and a light breakfast. "Most women who've had a bad experience eating right before an early run- or any intense workout-consumed too much fiber or fat," says Lewin. A better morning option: lowfat, low-fiber foods, which give you quick energy but don't leave you feeling bloated. "Just having an English muffin with jelly and half a cup of a sports drink 30 minutes before exercising may be enough to energize you," she says. "And that will crank up the number of calories you burn."