When to Eat Before Exercising to Maximize the Benefits of Exercise

Determining how to schedule your meal to maximize the benefits of exercise can feel difficult. Here, fitness experts share tips that can help you take stress and discomfort out of the equation and give your body the fuel it needs.

Whether and how early you should eat before training depends on the intensity of the exercise.

“If you watch a very intense workout, you need fuel to use that glucose, the sugar, for energy,” said physiotherapist Nicholas Rolnick. Glucose, which we get mainly from foods rich in carbohydrates, is our body’s main source of energy.

“If you don’t give your body the fuel it needs to exert yourself to the maximum in these short periods of time, along with your body’s ability to synthesize some of this energy itself during exercise, the intensity of your exercise will not be that high its like it would have been if you had some carbs to keep this workout going, “he said.

Important note: Before starting a new exercise program, consult your doctor. Stop immediately if you feel any pain.

Plan your meals and snacks before your workout

The negative effects of exercising on an empty stomach also include “lightheadedness, headaches, and feelings of weakness,” said Stephanie Mansour, a personal trainer and weight loss coach, via email. Conversely, if you eat too early or too much before exercising, digestion will rob your muscles of some of the energy they need to do their work.

You should eat between one and four hours before your workout, according to a consensus among experts including the American Heart Association and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, getting enough food and fluids – 16 to 20 ounces of water – before exercising is also important to make up for fluid loss and improve the quality and length of recovery time. The harder your muscles work, the more carbohydrates they have to hold out, wrote registered nutritionist Christopher Mohr for Eat Right, a publication by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. To bolster your hard workouts, Mohr suggested eating oatmeal with low-fat milk and fruit, or a peanut butter and banana sandwich. “Note that each of these suggestions includes both protein and carbohydrates,” wrote Mohr. “Carbohydrates are the fuel. Protein rebuilds and repairs it, but it also cranks the pumps up to give the muscles the right amino acids. ”Amino acids help the body repair tissue, grow, and further break down food. Your pre-workout record should be mostly carbohydrates and a moderate amount of lean protein, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Limit dietary fats and fiber as these take longer to digest.

On unique schedules and diets

If you exercise early in the morning, you may think that it is not possible to eat an hour to four hours beforehand. In this case, if you don’t prefer to exercise before you eat, you can have a small, easily digestible snack to get some exercise beforehand, Rolnick said.

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That light morning snack could be apple slices with nut butter, a banana, or Greek yogurt and berries. You can also use this advice if you’re doing a short, light workout at any time of the day, the Cleveland Clinic advised.

“As a weight loss coach for women, I recommend that my clients have a hard-boiled egg or handful of almonds before training, even if it’s only 30 minutes after training, so that they have enough energy to complete their workout,” Mansour said. You could also have a protein shake, she added.

“Eating earlier in the day also speeds up your metabolism, which helps accelerate weight loss,” said Mansour.

Whether and how early you should eat before your workout may also depend on your desired workout results: Some people who follow a low-carb, ketogenic, or intermittent lifestyle try to train with low glucose stores so they can burn fat instead of stored calories or food they recently eaten.

“If this is part of your protocol, give it a try and see how you feel,” said Mansour. “Remember that while fasting, lower-intensity exercise will likely make you feel more stable and less tired than high-intensity exercise.”

In general, you should listen to your body. “At the end of the day, you are your best trainer and instructor. If it doesn’t feel good to eat before training then don’t, ”said Mansour. “But if you do the same things and are not happy with your results, change them. Eat before you workout, eat after you workout, change your workout, and ultimately, listen to your body and change your strategies, to achieve your goals goals. ”