Ever walk into one of our Pilates classes and wish you hadn’t eaten such a large ‘energy’ meal before or better yet, wish you had eaten a little something because you feel positively weak? Our Pilates Physique instructors are often asked about pre-pilates meals and snacks so here are some guidelines:

Lily Nichols, Pilates Nutritionist has this to say:

First of all, you don’t want to eat a giant meal right before your Pilates session. A super-stuffed tummy means you wont want to be using your core (the idea of pulling in your stomach when you’ve just chowed down is not enticing).

Also, exercising right after a meal means your body has to divert energy away from digesting your food (what it wants to be doing) to sending blood and nutrients to your muscles. This causes bloating, gas and overall, not a happy Pilates client.

But, if you are S-T-A-R-V-I-N-G, you’ll be too weak to really get all the benefits of your Pilates session.

Ideally, you’ll want to check in with your hunger levels ahead of time and decide if you need a meal or a snack.

Then, time your meal or snack according to your workout, as suggested below.

(If you have a hard time knowing if you’re truly hungry, read this first!)
Full Meal – 1 to 2 hours before your session to give yourself time to digest.

Why? A full meal with some protein, fat, and lots of veggies gives you just the right amount of pick-me-up to stay focused and rock it. Protein and fat are slow burning energy that give you the stamina to get through your workout. They take a bit more work for your body to digest, so don’t dig into a steak 30 minutes before you walk in.

Also, I discourage people from loading up on too many carbs right before Pilates. You’re not running a marathon and unless you are doing intermediate-advanced Pilates, your workout might not as aerobic as going for a run (the more Pilates you do, the more aerobic it gets, believe me!).

Of course, you know your body best. So do experiment with what combinations of foods works best for you, meaning it digests well and keeps you energized throughout your workout.

Plan ahead and eat at least an hour before your session (2 hours if it’s a big meal) so you’re energized, not lethargic, going into your Pilates class.

Examples:

Green salad with grilled chicken, avocado, sliced almonds, and homemade salad dressing
Lettuce-wrapped burger (with grass-fed beef, of course)
Lentil-vegetable salad
Low-carb lasagne made with zucchini noodles (try this recipe)
Carrot ginger squash soup with a protein side, such as roasted chicken or fish
Broiled salmon, broccoli, and lemon-butter sauce
Slow-cooker pulled pork (with one of the yummy sides I suggest here)

–OR–
Small Snack – 30 to 45 min before your session for a quick energy boost.

Why? If you haven’t eaten anything for a few hours, your performance decreases. Pilates is all about focusing your energy on how your body is moving. If your mind is on your tummy grumbles, you won’t reap all the benefits from your session. Also, if you come in completely famished, you are more likely to binge on junk food after the session.

Examples:

Greek yogurt with blueberries
Hard-boiled egg
Cheese (good quality, preferably from grass-fed cows.)
Small handful of nuts
Hummus with carrots and celery