Eating Before a Workout: Everything You Need to Know.

I'd like to eat him before a workout. Just saying.

Obviously, proper diet is necessary to support your fitness program and the achievement of your goals.

Many people give a lot of thought to their post-workout meals. And, in general, it’s important to consume both fast-acting carbs and proteins immediately following a workout. But the pre-workout meal is also critically important. It can make or break you and your routine.

Deciding what’s best for you and your pre-workout meal depends on a number of factors, not the least of which is the time of day at which you exercise.

If you exercise first thing in the morning, it’s best to eat a light meal. I exercise in the morning, and as soon as I wake up, I drink half of a protein shake and an entire banana. The banana has fast-acting carbs that will give me energy at the gym. After fasting for 8 hours, the protein is necessary for my body to build and repair my muscles. After eating this light meal, I’m usually at the gym within 45 minutes. Anything heavier could result in an upset stomach – so my fruit/protein meal seems to be a winning combination.

If you exercise later in the day, make sure you avoid the gym until your meals are fully digested. For example, eating a heavy lunch and then immediately exercising isn’t going to be pretty. In general, many experts recommend waiting 4 hours before exercising after a heavy meal. A light snack with carbs (this will give your body fuel) a few hours before hitting the gym is advisable.

Excessive fiber and fat should be avoid before exercise. The fiber could stimulate your digestive system at an inappropriate time – and both are slow to digest. In addition, many people report discomfort and cramping while exercising after eating fatty foods.

Almost every expert would agree that exercising on an empty stomach is a huge mistake. Your body needs to run on fuel and not fumes. The Australian Institute of Sport weighed in on the subject:

Exercising in a fasted state (8 hours since the last meal) results in a greater proportion of fat being used as the exercise fuel… However, it is possible that you may be able to exercise harder and for a longer period if you consume carbohydrate before exercise.ย  Overall, this will result in greater energy use and a better contribution to the negative energy balance that is needed to cause fat loss.

So, don’t think you’re doing your body a favor by skipping out on a very important meal.

The bottom line: Depending on when you hit the gym, consume a healthy meal or snack beforehand. If it’s first thing in the morning, I recommend a small meal with both protein and carbs. If you exercise later in the day, plan your meals 4 hours before exercising – and eat a carbohydrate snack an hour or two before the gym for energy.

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  1. For casual exercisers like me, it would seem that a cup of hot Milo is a good beverage to kick start my workout in the morning. (It contains both protein and carbohydrates!)

  2. Howdy … I am an avid spin class nerd ๐Ÿ™‚ I take with me a bottle of water, and another bottle of water with an electrolyte tablet in it for my class. I push myself each class but sometimes depending on the teacher and class I push myself harder. I some times find myself so exhausted to the point of feeling weak. Am I just not eating enough before the calss? Here is what I eat, about 1 hr to 1.5 hrs before class I eat 2 Toasts with Nutella and flax seeds and almonds. Or I will have 2 boiled eggs and Toast, or oatmeal with a boiled egg. Any suggestions will help. Thanks ๐Ÿ™‚


  3. Well , whenever i eat mcflurry oreos 20mins before workout i feel huge energy ……..

    • Thats a lot of sugar there that you can substitute with sugars from a healthy source. Try mixing oreos with a protein shake, thats what I do. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. neverknew says:

    My problem is that I love to work out in the morning when I wake up, but my stomach doesn’t like food or anything in the morning.I got out of the habit of breakfast in highschool when I didn’t have time to eat anything. Now I think I should get back into the habit and try to train my belly to take in at least some protein and carbs.

  5. Can I just say, I had a SALAD from Chipotle about 2.5hrs before working out today and I got such bad heartburn I will NEVER eat chipotle again. I don’t care why, but that salad now has such negative associations I dont even think I can do tex mex again

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