I don’t know about you, but I’ve scrolled through hundreds of pins on “The best pre-workout snacks” and “What you should be eating after you workout” via Pinterest wondering if I really should be eating these foods before I workout or if I should just eat something afterwards.
First of all, everyone has a different reason for working out; some want to lose weight, gain muscle, get toned, get #yoked, etc. Therefore, workout regiments and eating schedules vary between exercise enthusiasts.
You should always eat a meal 3-4 hours before a workout so your body has some fuel and so you don’t feel weak during a workout. It is important to eat before working out to prevent injuries. If you workout when you first get up, be sure to have a quick source of nourishment like a protein drink that is low in sugar or simple carbohydrates. If you are unsure what to eat, we can help you.
But there really is no defining yes or no answer to if you should be eating before a workout or not, but there are different things you could eat depending on what you’re doing in the gym.
If you are looking to target fat
Some sources claim one of the benefits of skipping a pre-workout snack is that you’ll end up burning a bit more fat because your body is working to break down fatty acids instead of your snack. With that being said, it’s important to eat something before working out or else you’ll run the risk of losing muscle and not fat.
Jilian Michales suggests eating a banana or a low-fat yogurt before working out because if you don’t you will end up feeling “sluggish and dizzy”–why would you want to feel like that? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered for awesome, healthy, and light pre-workout snacks.
If you are trying to make gains
For those out there who are looking to build muscles and get yoked, then skipping a pre-workout meal/snack is not for you. When you are building muscles, your body is burning the glycogen stored in your muscles instead of fatty acids, and you want that. According to Flex, it makes “your physique look fuller and more impressive.” So having a snack with complex carbohydrates and good quality proteins before a workout is a good thing.
If you’re planning on gaining lots of muscle, your pre-workout meal should focus on foods that are made up of complex carbohydrates (oats, vegetables, quinoa), lean protein (egg whites, protein powder, chicken or milk), and some quick digesting carbohydrates (like fruit).
If you don’t know what you want/are just starting out
For those who are just starting their fitness journey, determine if you want to build muscle or lose weight and then go from there. Going to the gym with a grumbling stomach or food baby isn’t going to help you have a solid workout. Experiment a bit with timing your meals before a workout and see what works best. Sometimes eating too much can cause stomach cramping and not eating can make you feel tired and unmotivated – so find a balance.
One of the best and easiest pre-workout meals/snacks is oatmeal with a tablespoon of peanut butter and a half of banana. This breakfast is perfect for beginners because it’s not too complex or dense and won’t make you feel gross during your workout. Just remember to leave a time gap between eating and working out for digestion.
According to Daily Burn, an additional way to determine if you should eat before working out is to assess the intensity of your workout. Some workouts require a little more fuel than others. For example, if you are planning on getting your Soul Cycle on – where you’re burning an upwards of 600 calories per hour – you should eat something with complex carbs that can give you an energy boost for your workout. However, if you are going to take a walk for your workout or any other light exercise, you can definitely skip the pre-workout snack.
Workout intensity is not the only factor to consider. If you are heading out for yoga, hammock yoga or barre, where you might be inverted for a good portion of time, you might carefully consider timing for your pre-workout snack.