Should you eat before a workout? Here’s what experts say.

Sara Moniuszko


Does food before a workout help pump us up or slow us down?

As the new year kickstarts many people into new or refreshed fitness routines, we’re asking experts some of your most-searched questions around exercise, including whether you should eat something before you work out.

General expert consensus? Yes, you should — but there are a few things to keep in mind about what kind of food, how much and when to eat it.

Consuming a balanced meal two to three hours before your workout is ideal, Mauro S. Maietta, district fitness manager with Crunch Fitness, told CBS News. Eating a full meal a few hours before a workout, or a smaller meal or snack closer to the workout, also aligns with recommendations from groups like the Cleveland Clinic and Mayo Clinic. 

The best timing will depend on how your body digests and reacts to food. “Experiment and see what time frame works best for your body,” the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics advises.

Experts agree it’s important to fuel yourself with the right kinds of foods, including concentrating on complex carbohydrates such as whole grains or fruits to equip yourself with the energy your body needs for exercise.

For sustained energy, Maietta also recommends including some lean proteins like chicken or tofu and healthy fats like avocados or nuts.

“If you can’t eat a full meal, have a small snack 30 minutes to an hour before your workout,” Maietta says. “Aim for a combination of carbs and protein, such as a banana with peanut butter or a protein shake.”

Just avoid saturated fats and an overload of protein, according to the American Heart Association, as these “digest slower in your stomach and take away oxygen and energy-delivering blood from your muscles.”

Running short on time? “If you only have 5-10 minutes before you exercise, eat a piece of fruit such as an apple or banana,” the American Heart Association’s website recommends. 

Another important thing to consider is what you wash that meal or snack down with.

“Drink water to stay hydrated throughout the day,” Maietta says. “Dehydration can lead to fatigue and decreased performance.”

You should also rehydrate during and after your workout to replace fluids lost during exercise, she says. 

“If you’ve had an intense or prolonged workout, consider a sports drink with electrolytes to replenish sodium, potassium and other minerals,” Maietta adds, but “make sure to review the sugar content as some commercialized sports drinks are high in sugar.”

As you might expect, it’s also best to avoid large, heavy foods immediately before and after a workout, especially those high in fiber and fat.

“They can cause digestive discomfort and work against your goals,” Maietta explains. 

Sara Moniuszko

2024-01-09 13:19:55 , Home –

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