Should You Eat Before a Workout?

People have varying ideas when it comes to pre-workout diet strategies. However, when you research the subject, experts are basically in agreement on when you should eat and what you should eat before your workout.

What Experts Say

The biggest myth which needs to be debunked about eating and exercise is that it is more beneficial to completely abstain from food before workouts (especially morning sessions) because it will help to burn more fat. Although true to an extent, the drawbacks of this strategy significantly outweigh the benefits.

A small amount of fat storage can be eliminated after going without food for around 8 hours during the night, but that you can burn even more fuel if you eat because you will have more energy to workout longer and harder. It’s like comparing food abstaining workouts to a car running on fumes. If you put a small amount of fuel in the vehicle before heading out, you will get farther than if you strike out on an empty tank.

Besides providing the necessary energy, eating the right nutritional foods before a workout will also help to speed recovery, prevent fatigue, and better prepare your body for the next exercise session.

Different Strategies for Different Workout Times

Eating plans, however, are not universally the same across the board. Experts say that what and when you eat before exercise should vary according to the time of day you choose to tackle your workout session. The length and intensity of the workout is another important factor.

The commonly accepted rule of thumb for eating before exercise of normal duration is to consume a small portion of high carb, low fat foods (i.e. whole grain bread, bagels, pasta, or crackers) an hour or two beforehand. These types of food will digest before the workout and provide you with sufficient energy to complete it.

However, if you don’t have that amount of time to eat prior to your exercise program (such as in the morning), choose fruits that provide quick energy and have a high water content like apples, oranges, watermelon, grapes, or peaches.

If you are planning an extended workout, experts advise eating carbohydrate foods about 30 minutes before since they take longer to break down and give more lengthy supplies of energy.

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