Can Eating Before or After Exercise Really Affect Your Performance?

Exercise and nutrition are 2 of the most significant factors for your general health. What’s more, these 2 factors affect each other. The right eating plan can certainly fuel your workout and help the body adapt and recover.
On the other hand, one question is whether to eat after or before working out. This can be specifically relevant in case you workout early morning.

Here is all you need to learn about eating before or after exercising.

Can You Eat Before Short-Duration Exercise?

Some studies have tried to answer this very question. One study analyzed 23 reports on whether eating before workout improved overall performance.

The vast majority of research confirmed no improvement in overall performance between people who ate before aerobic fitness exercise lasting less than sixty minutes and people who didn't. (Springer Source, Physiology Source, Oxford Academic)

Some other research studies analyzing high-intensity interval training workouts (HIIT) also observed no improvement in overall performance between fasted and fed workout. (Source: Wiley Online Library, Human Kinetics Journal, African Journals)

Despite the fact that limited information and facts are available for a weight training exercise, some studies show that working out fasted or fed may possibly produce similar effects (NCBI Source 1).

The body stores around 3,000 calories from fat as glycogen plus much more in extra fat. (NCBI Source 2, Human Kinetics Journals)

Having said that, some studies show a noticeable difference while carbohydrate-containing foods or dietary supplements were used before a workout. (Oxford Academic 2, Physiology Source 2)

Can You Eat Before Long-Duration Exercise?

Substantial analysis of workout staying longer than one hour discovered that 54% of research studies documented better performance while the food was eaten before a workout. For endurance sports athletes, some other studies have shown great things about consuming a high-carb food 3-4 hours before a workout. 
There may possibly be added benefits to eating carbohydrate food in the hour before a workout for long-duration sessions. On the other hand, some research projects confirmed zero benefit of any pre-exercise food. (NCBI Source 3, NCBI Source 4, NCBI Source 5, NCBI Source 6)

Eating After Working Out can also Affect your performance

When you eat during the few hours before exercise, the vitamins and minerals you consume can still be present in higher levels in the bloodstream after and during a workout. (Source: International Society of Sports Nutrition).

In such cases, most of these vitamins and minerals can aid recuperation. For instance, proteins may be used to build up amino acids, while carbohydrates may rejuvenate the body’s glycogen stores (NCBI Source 7).

One study analyzed whether consuming food containing amino acids and carbohydrates right after fasted workout triggered greater boosts in the production of healthy proteins in the body, than when no nutrients and vitamins were used (NCBI Source 8).

How Soon After Workout?

While eating the food right after a workout is very important, some studies have proved that it will not be necessary to eat after working out.

For instance, one study analyzed how well the carb stores (glycogen) in muscle tissue were retrieved after a couple of hours of cycling. (Medicine & Science in Sport & Exercise)

During one study, contributors started eating immediately after a workout, though they patiently waited a couple of hours before eating in the next trial.

There were clearly no variations in the muscle’s recuperation of carb stores over the 8- or 24-hours following workout, showing that waiting a couple of hours to eat wasn't harmful.

So, Eating Before or After Exercise Can Really Affect Your Performance?

Trying to figure out whether you should eat before, during, or after your workout pretty much boils down to your personal preference. Some people cannot tolerate working out with food on their stomach so they may opt for an after-workout meal.

Basically, just listen to your body because it will tell you what it likes, dislikes, and need. I can start my day with 16 oz of water, and about half an hour later, I will drink 16 oz of a grapefruit - orange juice blend. It doesn't take liquids very long to digest, and I generally feel energized and strong enough to get through a one-hour workout without pooping out before it’s over.

If you feel winded and can barely get through a 30-minute workout, chances are it’s been a while before your last snack or meal. For example, if your last meal was at 8 pm and you decided to workout the next morning at 8 am, that's a 12-hour stretch since you've had anything to eat. If you choose to workout in the mornings, make sure you eat something within 45 minutes of your bedtime so you will have enough fuel to get you through your morning or afternoon workout.

The best foods to eat before bedtime include any fruit, vegetable, protein, or whole grain. This food will help replenish your glycogen stores and prepare your body before a workout the next morning.

For those who choose to eat before a workout, make sure it's a light snack like a small bowl of cereal. The protein in the milk will help build muscle and bone, and as an added bonus, block fat storage. If endurance is the goal of your workout, milk is a great addition to your morning snack. Wait about 1 1/2 to 2 hours before a workout to give the food a chance to digest; otherwise, you might get nauseous by working out with food in your stomach.

Keep in mind that everyone responds differently to eating before a workout. If you are not sure how your body will react, I recommend that you experiment with juices, smoothies, or protein shakes before you try solid foods. Another alternative is to eat after exercise.

If you decide to have a post-workout meal, make sure you combine carbs with protein to replenish everything that was lost during the workout. Eggs, bacon or ham are excellent sources of protein with a slice of whole grain toast and a tall glass of chocolate milk. The milk will also help reduce lactic acid buildup to combat soreness after a workout.

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