Should You Eat Before Workout

One common question always asked by every person who goes to gym or exercises regularly is: “Should I eat before a workout or gym?”. Read on for the answer.

This especially becomes relevant if you workout first thing in the morning.

Many people believe that exercising on an empty stomach helps burn more fat & lose weight. The logic behind this is that not eating before workout will compel your body to burn more fat during exercise, leading to fat loss. This is Not Totally True: On the contrary exercising on empty stomach can in some cases be harmful for the body and muscles.

Should You Eat Before You Workout Or Go To Gym?

Your body fulfils its fuel (energy) needs mainly from body fat & carbohydrates.

Whereas fat is stored in your fat tissues as triglycerides, carbs are stored as glycogen in your muscles and liver. Carbs are also present in the form of blood sugar.

When we workout on an empty stomach, more of our body’s fuel (energy) needs are met (in the first instance) from the stored body fat and/or blood sugar. When these are not enough to meet your body’s energy needs, your body will have to convert your muscle tissues into energy.

A research study published in the Strength and Conditioning Journal monitored the cyclists who ate food as against those who ate nothing before they trained. It was found that the amount of fat burnt was the same for both groups, but those who had trained without eating first had ten percent of their calorie burn come from protein — including their own muscle mass. This you won’t want to happen – your aim is to retain and gain muscle mass and not eat away at it.

Should You Eat Before Gym Or Workout To Improve Performance

From performance point of view, a majority of the studies have not shown clear advantage in case of eating before short-duration aerobic exercises or high intensity interval training (HIIT). However, some research studies supported the view that eating before workout can improve performance.

In case of long duration workout sessions, although mixed results have been reported – but the scale is tilted towards the view that eating before long duration exercise sessions is beneficial.

Final Thoughts

Whereas research studies have shown mixed results for eating or fasting before workout, it’s mostly a matter of personal preference.

Eating before workout may be more beneficial in case you are doing long-duration exercise sessions.

However, most active individuals can make significant progress regardless of whether they eat or not before they exercise.

Therefore, your own preference about when you eat relative to your workout session is more important.

Some people feel weak & fatigued when they don’t eat before training, and for others eating soon before work out may make them feel nauseous or sluggish.

However, you don’t have to stuff yourself; even a healthy small snack can serve the purpose. You may eat something 45 minutes to an hour before you exercise. Sooner than this can lead to stomach cramps and make you sick during training.

Go for something with carbohydrates and protein combo, such as a whey shake, banana with almond or peanut butter or Greek yogurt with crushed walnuts and berries or a slice of whole grain toast with almond butter.

If you workout in the morning, the gap between when you wake up and when you exercise can affect your choice.

If you get less time between eating & working out, then you should opt for a smaller pre-workout snack. This will help you to avoid feelings of discomfort & fullness during training.


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