We see a clear increasing trend of health and fitness over the past years. With everything that is going on in the world, it is to be expected that this trend will continue. This means a lot of people are looking for good information on how to get healthy and stay healthy. Food and eating healthy is one of the main pillars of a healthy life. When combining this fact with the popularity of working out, a big question for many people is what to eat and when to eat while following a workout schedule. In this article we want to dive into this subject and shine our light on the science behind eating before a workout.
Many people work out first thing in the morning before have a good breakfast. This can be great for some people, but it is clearly not for everyone. Depending on your personal objectives, we analyze science to help you with what suits you best.
It has long been a hot debate amonst gym-goers. Do you eat before your workout? And if so, what do you eat? Luckely, science has come to the rescue with a great study that will help us all with these questions.
The study was performed by Oxford Academic as a cooperation between several universities. The energy expenditure of young, healthy men was analyzed during three different trials: eating breakfast with no exercise, eating the same breakfast 2 hours before cardio training of one hour and finally, no breakfast and doing the same workout for 60 minutes. The study showed that the men who skipped breakfast had the greatest calorie deficit.
This outcome is something we can expect, as your body does not have a lot of readily accessible energy without a meal before working out. Your body will draw its energy from other sources, like stored body fat. This scientific fact shows that working out on an empty stomach will be the most effective for burning fat and losing weight. Another benefit or working out in a fasted state, is that your insulin levels are low, which allows your body to produce more growth hormone, which in turn also burns fat.
So is eating before a workout all bad and what suits you personally?
To answer the first question: no – eating before a workout is not bad. There are benefits to having a meal before a workout. The researchers from the study found that the men who ate before the workout, burned more carbs and had an increased metabolism later that day.
What do you need to do? It all depends on your personal goals and wishes.
Is your main goal to lose fat and bodyweight? Then you will probably benefit most from working out on an empty stomach.
Do you want to bulk up as a bodybuilder? Then eating 1-2 hourse before your workout will ensure your body has the right amount of energy to perform well. You will also eat or drink a small meal or supplement half an hour before your workout to boost your efforts. An important thing to mention is the fact that bodybuilders use 6-8 meals a day to keep up with their hightened metabolism and muscle growth.
Is cardio your thing or are you working out in a CrossFit box? Then a regular eating schedule is probably best and consuming a meal a few hours before your working will ensure you perform optimally.
We also get questions about eating right before a workout. Personally, we don’t ever do this. It will cause bloating and decreased performance. Imagine running or rowing with a full stomach; it is not the best feeling in the world.
In most cases it is wise to eat something after a workout. A good post workout meal could be as simple as a salad, piece of meat or fish, oatmeal or eggs, a protein snack, or a protein shake of some sort. This will help your body recover optimally and create the best effects after a workout.
It is important to remember that your post-workout and pre-workout meal should both be based on your workout, goals and your lifestyle. This requires you to be conscious of your food choices. When you are shopping for food, remember that you can only be as healthy as the food you consume. So you can have the best intentions with great workouts, but if you don’t support this effort with healthy and good food, you will not get the desired results. This in turn can cause a motivation dip and stop you from working out at all. If you combine a good workout with great and healthy food, you will soon experience the results and you will love it!