There are two sides to the thought of whether you should eat before or after exercising. Some people believe that eating should only be done before, while others believe it’s strictly afterward.
But the truth is that both can be a benefit to you because you’re going to be working out and your body needs food before exercising to use as fuel. What you eat does matter. You want to make sure you give your body the fuel it needs to power through rather than eating something that drives up your sugar then abruptly drops it.
Remember that anything you eat prior to working out should help you. It’s okay to choose to eat a snack at this point or it’s okay to eat a meal if that’s what you prefer.
Whichever one you choose, eating prior to working out helps to prevent you from feeling shaky or getting sick.
When you don’t have fuel in your body prior to working out, you won’t be able to perform as well. You want to eat both protein and complex carbs before you work out. For some people, what to eat before exercising will vary because of the time of day they choose to exercise.
For example, if you choose to exercise first thing in the morning, the last thing you may want to do is have a carb heavy meal, especially if you’re not really a breakfast person.
Can you work out without eating beforehand?
Yes. Will your body get as much from your workout? Probably not. If you don’t like to eat breakfast and the thought of it makes you feel ill, then grab a quick snack or breakfast bar instead before you work out.
But if you’ve worked all day and are about to go exercise, to prevent your glucose from dropping, it’s best that you eat something before you do. It also matters what time you eat before working out.
You need some time between when you eat and working out. If you work out right after you eat, your body is still busy working on trying to digest what you just fed it. So energy is diverted to that process.
It’s best to wait at least half an hour, but no more than between two to three hours after eating to work out. The same waiting period applies whatever time of day or night that you work out.
While you’re at it, make sure that you’ve had a lot of water to drink. You need about 24 ounces of water spread over three hours prior to exercising. If you’re not hydrated, it can wreak havoc on your body during your workout.
After a workout, you need to eat to help your body replenish what you burned by exercising. You need the carbs and electrolytes. If you don’t have a snack or meal after a workout, your glucose can dip, and it impedes your muscle recovery. You should eat the same way after you exercise as you did before by eating protein and complex carbs.