Your spin class starts in an hour and you’re starving. Should you eat? Yes! Your body needs energy in the form of calories and thus in the form of food to make it through and maximize that cycling session, but there’s a science to snacking before sweating.

Here’s what to eat – and when – to fuel up for fitness.

One Hour Before Exercise
If you’re on top of it and thinking about food one hour before, carbohydrates are the name of the game an hour before you workout, but they have to be the right kind of carbs.  Go for healthy and easy to digest foods like oatmeal (which gradually releases sugar into your bloodstream while exercising).  Whole grain bread topped with peanut or almond butter is another option. The bread is a good source of complex carbohydrates, while the topping gives a protein punch to support your muscles.

Don’t forget the water!  You need to be hydrated before you exercise.  A good general recommendation is to drink 2-3 cups of water 2-3 hours before exercise.  FYI, exercising while famished is a bad idea.  Low blood sugar leads to fatigue and lightheadedness and muscles that don’t have the energy to spin (or run or hold plank position). Take the time to fuel up for fitness.  Your body and workout will thank you.

30 minutes before Exercise
You are getting closer to your workout time and you need foods that are easy on the stomach.  Greek yogurt fits the bill, and it’s high in protein, too. Bananas are an excellent option, because they’re loaded with potassium, which helps with nerve and muscle function – two things needed for a good workout!

What you should avoid: fat and fiber. Fat can sit in your stomach and make you feel sluggish.  Excess fiber can upset your stomach in other ways, causing gas and bloating during your workout.

Minutes Before…
Rapidly digested foods are key if you are cutting it this close to your exercise time.  Smoothies work well here. Load them with two already mentioned ingredients – Greek yogurt and a favorite fruit, like that banana. Commercial protein/nutrition bars are another option, but make sure they have at least five grams of protein, and watch the sugar content.