Should you eat before a workout or not?
Written by Taylor Smith | Healthy Magazine
Anyone who visits the gym regularly has experienced that age-old dilemma—should I eat something right before I go workout?
There seems to be two camps of divided opinion regarding this question. One camp says, no way. The other says, go for it (as long as it’s simple). But who’s right?
Arnold Schwarzenegger used to say that the best way to burn fat was to go to the gym on an empty stomach. There might be something to that, but then again it’s really hard to fortify yourself mentally for that treadmill session when your stomach is growling. Don’t worry, though, there are options for those of us that don’t have Arnold’s will power.
When it comes to pre-workout eating it’s all about timing. If you’re walking out the door to get to the gym and your stomach rumbles, go for something simple. If you’re eating within an hour of your workout, eat something like a small bowl of cereal or a piece of fruit. Try to avoid heavy foods that are rich in protein, fat or fiber as these are harder to break down and could lead to stomach cramps. If you’re eating two to three hours before a meal, your body will have time to digest and breakdown heavier foods.
Another factor to consider is the intensity of your upcoming workout. The general rule-of-thumb here is “the harder the workout, the smaller the meal.” The only qualifier to this is how much time you give yourself to digest. Eat your meal further out if you’re planning a high-intensity workout to avoid feeling sick or cramps.
Also, if you’re simply gearing up for a 30-minute walk in the morning, you probably don’t need to eat a 200 calorie snack. Workouts that are less intense won’t require a lot of “pre-gaming,” so just keep that in mind when you’re gearing up for a workout.
If you eat too much or if you’re indulging in unhealthy snacks believing that your workout somehow justifies this, then eating right before a workout is probably not a great idea. As long as you’re not going to overdo it, working out on an empty stomach is a great way to avoid cramps and make good progress in your weight loss or fitness goals. Just remember to eat after your workout to aid your recovery.