Is it better to eat before or after workout? This is a very common question we get asked at TRUTH. Here is some advice from our expert team on what and when to eat during your exercise regime.
Do you need to eat during exercise?
This depends on the intensity and duration of the exercise and how hungry you are. If the exercise is very intense or has a long duration I would recommend eating before, especially if you’ve not eaten for 5+ hours.
If you are hungry I would also eat, regardless of the intensity or duration of the activity. If you aren’t hungry and the exercise is not intense or too long not eating is an option.
Pros of not eating during a workout
There is research that suggests this encourages your body to use fat as the primary fuel source. The best time for this workout would be the morning as you would have used your carbohydrate stores because of fasting for 8hrs + overnight.
Pros of eating during a workout
The pros of eating include an increased ability to work harder and for longer and therefore burn more calories. Eating also prevents the catabolic breakdown of muscle, which can occur if you do a hard workout on no fuel. Eating will also help stop early feelings of fatigue or dizziness, which can occur if you workout with empty glycogen (carbohydrate) stores.
What to Eat Before or After Workout
The best advice is definitely to eat before your workout as long as you give yourself enough time to digest what you have eaten. Here are some top tips on what to eat before exercise and we have another post with more details about how long should you wait after eating to workout.
Eating 3+ hours before a workout
You can eat a balanced meal, for example:
- Rice, chicken and veg.
- Beans on toast.
- Omelette and salad.
Eating 1.5 hours before a workout
Eat a smaller meal, such as:
- Half a sandwich
- Porridge and fruit
- Smaller portion of a normal meal
Eating 30 minutes before a workout
If you’ve not eaten in a while but feel you need to eat something, stick to simple carbohydrates which will be digested faster and be more readily available as an energy source.
- Bagel and jam
- Smoothie drink
- 2x Dates or a piece of fruit.
Last minute panic eat before you exercise
If you haven’t managed to grab any food early enough then drink some Ribena or other sugary drink.
When to eat during exercise routines
If the exercise is very intense (8/10 effort) I would recommend having some Ribena or sweets on hand just in case you need a boost. If it is longer than 1.5 hours (any intensity) also ensure you eat every hour or so. Flapjacks or fruit is a good option.
Final tip: As with anything you will have to experiment and find out what works best for you and your goals.
Should You Eat Before or After Workout?
We hope this guidance can help you to understand if you should eat Before or After a workout and what and when to eat.
Article by Haddi Connant – Truth Head of Cycling and Communications