Should I eat before working out or not?

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I get conflicting information about whether to eat or not to eat before working out? What would you advise? – Francis



Yes, it is good eat before you work out; food provides your body with energy so you can work harder and longer. The best support for a typical 1 hour gym workout would be a full meal 3-4 hours ahead of time with a small snack (applesauce or glass of milk) 30 minutes just before your workout. – Debbie J., MS, RD

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Posted on July 16, 2013, in Ask Our Dietitian, Health, Helpful, Nutrition, Weight Loss and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. Lenora Emerson

    How about a protein bar or shake about an hour before? Is that too much?

    • Debbie J., MS, RD

      Those could work well if kept low-fat and low-fiber and around 200 calories. Liquids clear the stomach faster than solids, so a shake may be better tolerated.

  2. NOTE the 3-4 hrs. BEFORE workout….that is, 3-4 BEFORE tennis……

  3. When is the best time to consume protein? Before or after workout? And what kind

  4. This advice is great if you work out later in the day but what if you workout at 5am?

    • Debbie J., MS, RD

      If you can drink a cup of chocolate milk or small light protein shake, that would give you a little “get-up-and-go”. So early in the morning you could have a banana, or half an English muffin or just a few egg whites. I’d suggest whatever settles in your stomach the best that is low-fat and low-fiber, so your body can process it readily.

      Many people don’t tolerate food immediately before working out, especially when still waking up. I wouldn’t force yourself to eat if that’s the case. Just have something prepared that you can eat immediately afterward.

  5. What if my workout is at 5:00 am…thats the time LA Fitness opens…

  6. Sounds good. What if I wake up at 5:15 and start working out at 5:45? I do a zero carb, 25g protein shake-is that ok?

  7. I work out at 4 a.m. before work…what would be a quick, easy, healthy thing to grab before I work out? I drink a protein shake when I get home.

  8. What if you start working out at 8 am?

  9. And for those who work out first thing in the morning? I roll out of bed and get over to the gym within half an hour of waking.

  10. Are there modifications to this for those of us who hit the gym before work? (ie. wake up at 530AM, at the gym by 615AM, work by 8AM)

  11. you have recommended eating before a work out. What if the work out is a 30 minute run?

    • Debbie J., MS, RD

      I wouldn’t say you’d need to eat before a brief run unless it’s been several hours since you’d eaten last. Typically, running burns 250-400 Cals in a half-hour, so something very small like a single piece of fruit would suffice. If running follows a full meal within 2-3 hours, you’re safe to eat afterward. Just keep up the fluids!

  12. When you eat carbohydrate rich foods before exercise, you will perform better mentally and physically during your workout. The question then becomes, what works best for your body.Fat and fiber hold food in the stomach longer and with your sensitive stomach, you want the food that you eat before a workout to be digested and out of your gut when you start exercise. Best low-fat, low-fiber foods:Banana,low fat yogurt.While it is true that exercise on an empty stomach allows you to burn fat during exercise, this does not translate to a reduction in body fat.To really blast through fat stores, you need to be in the carbohydrate-burning zone. When your body is using carbohydrate to fuel exercise, it means that you are burning more calories per minute. When carbohydrate isn’t available, your intensity drops, both physically and mentally. Exercise on an empty stomach generally feels much harder.

  1. Pingback: Is it okay to roll out of bed and go straight to the gym without eating? | LA Fitness | Official Blog | Living Healthy

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