Should You Eat Before or After Working Out?

Should You Eat Before or After Working Out?: Proper nutrition is important when exercising, so you may wonder whether it’s better to eat before or after a workout. In general, when you should eat depends on your personal fitness goals, your planned workouts, and any underlying health concerns.

Should You Eat Before or After Working Out (1)
Should You Eat Before or After Working Out (1)
  • Nutrition and exercise are the two most important factors for your overall health.
  • Moreover, both factors influence each other.
  • Proper nutrition can fuel your workouts and help your body recover and adapt.
  • However, a common question is whether to eat before or after exercise.
  • This may be especially relevant if you exercise first thing in the morning.
  • Here’s what you need to know about what to eat before or after a workout.

Studies have shown that your body’s response to exercise can vary depending on whether or not you eat before exercise.

Fasting Increases Your Body’s Ability to Use Fat for Fuel

  • Your body’s primary sources of fuel are body fat and carbohydrates.
  • Fat is stored in adipose tissue as triglycerides, while carbs are stored in your muscles and liver as a molecule called glycogen.
  • Carbohydrates are also available in the form of blood sugar.
  • Studies show that blood sugar is higher when you eat before exercise and during exercise (1Trusted Source, 2).
  • This makes sense because most pre-exercise meals in these studies provided carbs, which the body uses for energy during exercise.
  • When exercising on an empty stomach, most of your body’s energy needs are met by the breakdown of body fat.
  • One study of 273 participants found that fat burning was greater during fasted exercise, while glucose and insulin levels were higher during non-fasted exercise ( 3Trusted Source ).
  • This compromise between carbohydrate and fat metabolism is part of your body’s natural ability to function with or without a recent meal.

Fasted and Fed Exercise May Produce Different Responses

  • Given that your body burns more fat for energy when fasting, it’s tempting to think that this would lead to greater fat loss over time.
  • One study demonstrated different responses in individuals exercising in a fasted state compared to those who ate before exercise ( 5Trusted Source ).
  • Specifically, the ability of muscles to burn fat during exercise and the body’s ability to maintain blood glucose levels were improved by fast exercise, but not by exercise.
  • Because of this, some scientists believe that your body’s response to exercise after fasting will result in more beneficial changes in body fat than exercise after eating (6).
  • However, despite some evidence showing the potential benefits of fasted exercise, there is no strong evidence that fasted exercise leads to greater weight or fat loss (7).
  • Although limited research has been done, two studies found no difference in fat loss between fasting women and women who exercised after eating.

Read Also – What to Eat Before a Workout: Pre-Workout Nutrition

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