We have approached the time of the year when everyone is thinking about their New Year’s resolutions to improve themselves for next year. Most of these resolutions will include weight loss or increased exercise routines with the goal of better health.
If you’re starting to include exercise into your routine this year, you may ask yourself, “Should I eat before an early morning workout?” In short, yes, you should, BUT there are some factors to consider before deciding what to eat.
In this blog post, we’ll learn the truth about pre-workout nutrition and explore the impact on performance and overall well-being.
One common dilemma those in the fitness world face is whether they should eat before hitting the gym or go for a fasted workout.
The belief that exercising on an empty stomach aids in burning more fat has fueled this debate.
The truth is skipping pre-workout nutrition can be problematic if we don’t know how much and what we should eat, depending on the type of workout we are doing.
While it’s true that fasting workouts can tap into fat stores, it’s crucial to consider the potential downsides.
Exercising without fuel can lead to “underfueling” or depriving the body of necessary nutrients, ultimately hindering performance and recovery. It can also put you at a higher risk of developing low energy availability issues or RED-S (relative energy deficiency in Sport).
This can cause cause side effects such as:
The type, intensity, and duration of your workout are pivotal in determining your pre-workout nutrition needs.
High-intensity activities or long-duration (60-90 minutes) exercises may require a pre-workout snack or small meal to optimize performance.
Low-intensity or short-duration (30-45 minutes) workouts aren’t so demanding on your body, so your body may be okay without eating first, but if you find yourself hungry or some other discomforts during your workout, consider a small pre-workout snack.
Listen to your body and assess whether you need the additional energy boost.
Timing matters when it comes to pre-workout nutrition.
Consuming a small meal or snack 30 minutes to 2 hours before exercising allows your body to digest and absorb the nutrients effectively.
Also, consuming too little or too much water before a workout can have its own adverse effects.
Drinking 17 to 20 ounces (about 2 -3 cups of water ) 30 minutes to 2 hours before the start of exercises is recommended.
The choice between carbohydrates and protein depends on the nature of your workout.
Carbohydrates provide readily available energy, making them essential for high-intensity activities. On the other hand, protein aids in muscle repair and recovery.
Here are some ideas for your light-intensity or shorter workouts.
Here are some ideas for your high-intensity and longer workouts. Consider a balanced meal with lean protein, complex carbohydrates, and some healthy fats.
While fiber and healthy fats are integral to a balanced diet, they might not be the best choice right before a workout.
High-fiber foods can cause gastrointestinal discomfort, and fats can slow down digestion, potentially leading to discomfort during exercise.
Ultimately, listening to your body is the most critical factor in pre-workout nutrition. Pay attention to how different foods affect your energy levels and adjust accordingly. Here are some additional tips to enhance your overall workout experience:
Consult a Professional: For personalized guidance, consider working with a nutritionist, ideally a certified sports dietitian, to tailor your pre-workout nutrition to your specific needs and goals.
The answer to whether you should eat before a morning workout isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. Tailor your pre-workout nutrition based on the type, intensity, and duration of your exercise. Remember that the goal is not to deprive your body but to fuel it optimally for enhanced performance and well-being.
If you find navigating the realm of pre-workout nutrition challenging, consider working with a dietitian to receive personalized guidance and support. Together, we can create a plan that aligns with your fitness goals, ensuring you feel your best by fueling your best.
If you’re looking for a sports dietitian to help you optimize your performance, health, recovery, and sleep by optimizing your fueling and hydration plan, we’re here to help. Check out our Nutrition Coaching & Counseling packages.