>U Mom Knows Best: To Eat Vs Not To Eat Before a Workout

Monday, December 9, 2019

To Eat Vs Not To Eat Before a Workout

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  So now that you are finally getting used to exercising and have begun to schedule your workouts, you may be wondering, should I eat before I exercise or not? While I may be consistent in getting my daily workouts in, I am not consistent in what time of day I exercise. Sometimes I exercise in the morning and at other times, I don't get my workout in until 6 PM. I don't think the time of day matters when it comes to exercise as you get it done when you can. For some people, like me most of the time, they like to exercise first thing in the morning while others prefer their fitness time in the evening. My husband is an after-work fitness person so I will gladly delay my workout until the evening so I can meet him at the gym a couple days a week. Or I will workout in the morning, as I love the brain charge, and then lift weights when I go to the gym in the evening. 

To eat or not to eat before a workout? 


 This week I read two different studies that both focused on whether food is important or not important before a workout session. One article was about how a high-carb meal 20 minutes before a workout can increase performance and the other was about how not eating before a workout can help you burn more fat. So that got me thinking about which article is right. I then began to think about my workout style and how both articles had some valid points. I also decided to put the food question into practice in both my morning and evening workout sessions. 

Do you eat before your morning workout?


  I generally do not eat anything before I go running in the morning as I want to get my workout done shortly after I wake up. So I don't eat anything as that means that I have to wait 20-30 minutes for my food to digest. I find working out with food in my stomach slows me down and makes me feel sluggish. During that time, I might get busy on the computer and then put my workout on hold until later in the morning. So my thinking is to get up and get out the door before I change my mind on working out. So when I workout first thing in the morning, I just drink a natural energy drink that has about 50 mg of caffeine, so that is usually a half of a can. I find that the caffeine and carbohydrates give me quick energy so I can get a great workout in. I feel lighter when I workout on an empty stomach and I don't experience any stomach problems.  I usually run for about 40 minutes and find that the energy drink is all I need for this workout. If I try to work out for longer than 40 minutes, I find that I start to get light-headed. I discovered this after I went running and then went to the gym to do my weight lifting exercises. Ten minutes into my workout, I was feeling like I was going to faint. 


Does no eating before a workout help me burn more fat?



  I am not sure about the fat-burning benefits of not eating before a workout. This past summer, I did all my running in the morning without food hoping to burn off that stubborn belly fat. My stomach did not change one bit. What did happen after my morning workouts was some amazing brain power and I discovered that I was more efficient with my work for the day. I was able to think better after did my exercise. I also discovered that I was hungry after a workout without eating beforehand. So I made sure to have my plant-based protein smoothie waiting for me when I was done working out. That way I was able to satisfy my hunger for several hours and not reach for any junk food snacks. If I did not consume my Keto plant-based protein shake soon after my exercise, I found myself eating unhealthy snacks.


Does eating before a workout give me more energy?
 When I workout in the evening with my husband at the gym, I always try to eat a healthy snack that contains some carbs and protein about 30-60  minutes before I workout. I find this easy to do as my boys come home from school around this time. So I have a healthy snack with my boys 60 minutes before I workout at the gym. This healthy snack gives me the energy to work out for 45 minutes on the elliptical machine and lift weights for 30 minutes. I also am not starving when I get home and I do not find myself senseless snacking while fixing dinner. My husband, on the other hand, does not eat before his gym workout and reaches for unhealthy snacks when we get home from the gym. I keep telling my husband to pack extra fruit in his lunch so he can eat the fruit while he is on the bus on the way to the gym.


Food equals energy
 I am huge into telling my boys that they need to eat before they go to school. I have one child that is not hungry in the morning and if given a choice would go to school on an empty stomach. Well, this mom will not allow that as I know that no energy will affect his concentration at school. So I tell my son to eat something in the morning, like a granola bar, and grab some grapes to eat while on the school bus. I like to use the example of trying to start a car that has no gas or turn on a light without electricity. When my boys make poor choices with food, I use the example of giving a car bad gasoline and that helps them to see why they need to eat healthy foods like fruits and veggies.


The best time to workout    
 I don't think there really is an ideal time to exercise as everyone has different schedules. Some people may find that different times of the day work best for their fitness plan. You may like working out first thing in the morning as you are a morning person or you know that once the day begins, things can get busy and it is hard to make time for that fast walk. You may be like my husband who does not like to exercise but knows that exercise is good for a healthy heart so you head to the gym after work. You may be the person who loves the benefits of exercise to reduce stress so you take power walks in the middle of the day or you may be a person, like a mom, who has a hard time fitting in exercise so you exercise when you are able to. Busy moms should check out these Workout Tips For Stay At Home Moms as even moms need to exercise. If your day is flexible like mine, then you can choose the best time to work out according to your workload. Anytime is a great time to exercise as long as you make time for fitness in your week. When my husband realized that he could reduce his high blood pressure with exercise instead of medicine with side effects, I told him to strive for three days of exercise a week for 30 minutes a session. That amount of exercise has helped his blood pressure stay in a healthy range. A couple of weeks ago when my husband was way too busy with work and he was not able to exercise, his blood pressure started to go up. So the point is our bodies need exercise to be healthy and there are many ways to get that body moving.


A weird reason made me an afternoon workout person
  I used to wait until the afternoon to workout and it was simply for a weird reason. I liked the convenience of working out in the morning but got frustrated with working out in the morning because of my need to be close to a bathroom. I would start running or fast walking and halfway into my exercise, I would have an urgency to use the bathroom to empty my bowels. I know this may be a TMI thing but I think we have all experienced the need to do number 2 and the urgency to find a bathroom. The problem was always there was never a potty nearby so I had to end my running and walk a weird slow walk home so I would not mess my pants. So that is why I waited until the afternoon to exercise so by that time, I would have already gone #2 with the help of several cups of coffee.


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The best foods to eat before exercise
 When it comes to eating before exercise, there really is no one perfect food. Food that has healthy carbohydrates seem to work best for energy. If you follow the keto diet than  I also think that a light meal or snack at least 20 minutes before you are planning to exercise is also best as it takes energy for your body to digest food. If you eat right before a workout session that energy may be going to your digestion and not to your workout. Having food in your stomach when running or exercising may also give you stomach cramps. So strive for a light meal 20 minutes or more before you want to get some fitness in. If you just ate a big dinner, it may be best to wait an hour or more to avoid stomach distress. Some foods that I like to eat before I workout are whole-grain crackers, fruit, a protein shake, trail mix, and a hand full of granola. Think lasting energy when you want to work out for longer than 30 minutes. Whole grains and healthy carbs are good. For shorter workouts, the quick energy from sugar and caffeine is ok. I personly like a bit of caffeine before I workout as it gives me the energy for my fast runs that I enjoy.



It is really a matter of choice
 I think it may matter to some extent whether you eat or don't eat before a workout. If you like working out on an empty stomach, then do so but try to eat soon after your workout so you don't get too hungry that you end up overeating and making unhealthy food choices. If you like to eat before a workout, make sure to give your body time to digest the food so you don't end up with stomach problems. There may be small benefits to either way but the larger benefit is getting the fitness in. As fitness has many benefits to your body beyond making you feel great. Fitness can give you energy and help with stress. Fitness can charge your brain so you can think better. Fitness is good for your overall health and is good for your heart. Fitness may prevent so many diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, certain types of cancer, obesity, and many more. Our bodies are made to move. So whether you eat or don't eat doesn't matter, just get some healthy exercise into your day.

Are you a eat or no eat exercise person?



39 comments:

  1. I personally don't eat before I workout in the morning, but that's because I don't like that full feeling in my tummy and it always affects my workout.

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  2. I don't eat before I work out in the morning if I'm doing cardio. I want to burn fat and not the carbs I just ate. I DO eat if I'm doing strength training.

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  3. I don't eat too much or drink before I workout as I find it makes me feel ill! I eat after the the workout!

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  4. I usually don't eat before working out either. Not for any real reason but I just don't eat much in the mornings and I prefer to work out in the morning.

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  5. I usually don't because then I feel too full to do much. I like to get my workouts done first thing in the morning!

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  6. I always exercise in the morning at least 2 hours after breakfast.

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  7. I need to just workout in general! HA Thanks for sharing this! I like to have a smoothie or a bar.

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  8. I do workout before eating and for me that works best. I do think everyone is different and you need to find what works for you

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  9. I do not eat before going to the gym. I always eat when I come back. I can't exercise with a full stomach.

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  10. This is really helpful. I can usually handle something like a smoothie or a light shake depending on the workout. Water helps a lot too. It takes trial and error though!

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  11. I personally eat a little something, like a couple of protein bites, or a pre-workout shake, that I sip on while working out. I think moderation is key, so you don't wind up throwing up.

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  13. My daily workouts take place either in the morning or early afternoon hours. Eating an actual breakfast before I go is an absolute must for me and I usually have a protein shake as soon as I get home from the gym. I agree it really all depends on personal preference.

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  14. Tara, depending on my life's demands, I adapt different workout routines and times. At some point of my life, I am an AM workout person. In other times, I work out in the afternoons. But I just want to continue to move and make sure I do something to be active during each day. Love the post!

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  15. I typically used to eat after I worked out but I had no energy. I found I had more energy if I ate first.

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  16. I like to workout before eating so I don't feel bloated up. If I eat, I would wait to head out. We are all different, I'm sure others think differently.

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  17. I don't usually eat before my workouts. Normally it's just a light snack. I was always told a light snack before working out, but nothing to big.

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  18. I think it's up to the individual too! I usually work out in the morning so I tend to not eat until afterward because I don't feel like getting up early enough to eat and digest before actually working out, haha. :P

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  19. I usually like to work out at night! There are times though when I prefer to workout in the morning to get my day started off.

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  20. I usually don't eat before my workouts. I try and trick myself into working out by working for my meal. It helps. I'll have to check out Regular Girl. I have a lot of tummy issues. After hearing about it here I checked out the reviews and they are pretty great. Thanks for sharing!

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  21. I don't work out enough these days... with or without eating first. LOL. But normally I eat first b/c I hate being hungry. Ever. LOL

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  22. I was always curious about to eat or not to eat before and after a workout. This was always my dilemma. Thanks for answering at this question.

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  23. I always eat something before a workout. It usually gives me enough energy to work out. I am now more enlightened on whether to eat or not to eat before a workout. Thank you, Tara.

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  24. I don't think I would be able to work out in the morning. I am just not a morning person. I prefer afternoons.

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  25. Toni | Boulder LocavoreDecember 10, 2019 at 5:26 AM

    I don't eat before I run in the morning. Thank you so much for the tips.

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  26. I'll eat something small if I'm hungry, but usually I don't. I guess it depends for me. Thanks so much for sharing this with us!

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  27. It really depends on what you're going to eat and what time. When I'm going to work out (heavy), I eat 2 hours before going to the gym so that I have enough energy to perform.

    Sometimes, I'm good with a quick snack--nothing heavy at all. But most definitely, I do not eat right before I workout because if I have a full stomach, I feel heavy and I sometimes even feel like I'm going to be sick.

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  28. This post was very insightful! Thanks for sharing :)

    mia2009(at)comcast(dot)net

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  29. I usually exercise mid afternoon, so I have eaten but not just before going out.

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  30. I find that if I eat a full meal before working out it will give me a stitch in my side when I am at the height of my exercise routine but eating a banana alone does not slow me down at all.

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  31. I've really never planned meals around the gym but more of planning the gym around my day. I like to work out right before lunch

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  32. OMG! I totally get you! I usually go early in the morning to the gym without having breakfast. I feel with energy when I wake up and I want to take advantage of that. If I have breakfast then I'll have to wait and probably will have second thought about going to the gym. I try to have a light snack before the workout and lots of water.

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  33. This is really important and it's surprising HOW MANY people don't know this!

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  34. I don't like to eat before working out. It's best I wait a little while afterwards.

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  35. I've thought about this too. I'm a bit of both, I eat only a little bit if it's before a workout and maybe drink a healthy shake afterwards.

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  36. This is an informative article. I cannot eat too early in the morning. But I do need to eat and drink a bit before working out.
    twinkle at optonline dot net

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  37. If it has been a while since I've eaten, I'll have something small before working out. I can't work out first thing in the morning as my back needs a few hours to get moving and comfortable,

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  38. I agree it would be better to not eat before a workout.

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