When you are hitting the gym for a workout, is it better to exercise before you eat or after? On the one hand you don’t want to be trying to do sit-ups and crunches with a full stomach – on the other hand you don’t want to be so hungry that you don’t have enough energy to complete your workout.
There is a lot of conflicting information out there about exercise and it’s difficult to determine what is a fact and what is a myth. Some say that exercising on an empty stomach will force your body to burn fat while you are working out, while others stay that exercising while you are starving can be detrimental to your body.
So should you eat before or after your workout? The answer is – both. It is a good idea to eat a meal consisting of carbs before you hit the gym to give you energy and after your workout you should eat a meal high in protein in order to help your muscles rebuild. By eating these two small meals before and after you hit the gym you will ensure that you have the fuel to complete your workout and to help your body repair afterward.
What to Eat Before You Exercise
Your pre-workout meal should be low fat, low fibre and contain carbs and protein. It should not be something heavy, greasy or spicy as that might make your stomach nauseous while you are working out. For example, a grilled chicken sandwich or some salmon pasta salad would be a great pre-workout meal. If you work out in the morning you should have a light breakfast before you go out the door, such as half of a bagel, a slice of toast, a bowl of oatmeal or a banana.
You should also make sure that you drink plenty of fluids – at least two cups of water two hours before your workout. You should also bring a water bottle with you to the gym and make sure that you are sipping water throughout your workout.
What to Eat After You Exercise
After your workout you should have a light snack that is high in protein, which will help your muscles to recover and grow. Some great ideas for a post workout snack include a whey protein shake, a hard-boiled egg or a glass of chocolate milk. There is no need to eat a lot of food after your workout, you only need around 10-20 grams of protein for your muscles.
If you are choosing energy bars, avoid the ones that have a lot of sugars and flavourings as they are not very healthy for you. They should have very little fat and around 5 grams of protein per bar. It’s worth buying bars that are a little higher quality so that they will be healthy and not full of sugars and artificial ingredients.
Keep these tips in mind so that you can fuel your body with the right foods before and after your workout.