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Best Food to Eat Before a Workout

The Number 1 Morning-Exercise Mistake Preventing Weight Loss

Skipping breakfast to save calories? The idea seems logical — the less you eat, the faster you'll lose weight. But it's not as simple as that.

There are recent studies that show working out on an empty stomach offers benefits. It can increase insulin sensitivity, which makes it easier to lose fat, and can also increase the growth hormone, which helps build muscle tissue. Running on empty can also make your body more efficient at using up its energy stores, and helps your body absorb the carbs and protein you eat after a workout instead of being stored on your butt.

But other studies show that doing fasted workouts can impair performance. Since you have no fuel in your body, you won't have the energy to exercise as long or as intensely as you would if you had eaten, which can translate to less overall calories burned. You won't lose any weight if you bonk out of a workout within five minutes of starting it.

It's good to remember that everyone is different, and the best thing you can do is check in with your body during morning workouts. You might find that you are more than fine going for a run in the morning without grabbing a bite to eat first. But if you can't push yourself as hard, your energy levels start to wane halfway through your workout, or you feel insanely tired afterward, that's your cue to have a small snack before heading out. Choose one that focuses on simple carbs rather than protein to offer your body fuel.

An hour before a workout, eat around 45 grams of carbs with a small amount of protein:

  • Half a slice of whole wheat bread with one tablespoon crunchy peanut butter
  • Some crackers with an ounce of cheese
  • Quarter cup of sliced grapes mixed into half a cup of cottage cheese
  • Fruit smoothie made with soy milk
  • Quarter cup of blueberries mixed with half a cup of yogurt

If you have less time, 15 to 30 minutes before your workout, eat about 25 grams of carbs:

  • Small banana
  • A few crackers
  • Handful of raisins
  • Applesauce

If you skip out on a snack altogether, be sure to at least hydrate with some water.

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HealnCure HealnCure 3 years
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lgoulet lgoulet 3 years
The only shortcoming of this article is that you don't mention the study only tested the effects on CARDIO based exercise in the morning. The reason some "bodybuilders and gym goers" skip breakfast for training is that it actually can be beneficial to eat after a morning gym session when applied to strength training. Body recomposition techniques such as intermittent fasting are based on straying from the usual eating structure most are accustomed to, and are worth researching for future use.
Crot Crot 4 years
Come on. \u00a0 This is the biggest crock of sh*t since the acai berry craze. Sure, the dipsticks at the N.Y. times and "strength and conditioning journal" think empty-stomach training is an unforgivable sin. But what the hell do they really know? They're not doctors. They're certainly not pro athletes. They're just fat suits sitting around a table, reading blogs and trying to have something, ANYTHING to say to make them look relevant. So they pick through some biased, low-quality studies that were performed with lazy journal publishers in mind and piece together the next fad diet. Here's the newest one: \u00a0 "OMG guys! Seriously, just like, eat more, Y'know! Lol its good, 4 like, ur metabowlizm n stuff! tee hee"! \u00a0 REAL doctors have studied the effects of fasted exercise, and actually endorse it. REAL athletes have tried it, and swear by it. Yes, Sherlocks of the world, your workout will not be in top gear, but it will be more efficient at burning fat. It's called mind over body. Sucking down some crummy banana-flavored-soy-crap-shake or whatever in the mornings before your jog is just dandy... you will still lose weight. But pushing yourself on an empty stomach produces better results- end of story. Don't like it? You don't have to do it. But stop trying to disprove it just to feel better about yourselves. \u00a0 There are ways around every problem this report brings up. Lifting weights even just briefly can sustain a surprising percentage of muscle on even the most severe catabolic diets (not to mention that consuming the right amount of protein on a restricted diet has a similar effect). Feeling hungry after a fasted workout? Well, if you're a dieter, then you should be used to this sensation. Suck it up. If you find yourself binging, it is a testament to your lack of willpower and rationality... not the diet's flaws. \u00a0 I mean really! Look at this and try not to laugh: \u00a0 "In another study, women who consumed 45 grams of carbs before working out actually ended up eating less calories the rest of the day, which also aids in weight loss." \u00a0 Wowzers! No way! You think... MAYBE- and I'm really going out on a limb here -that they ate less throughout the rest of the day because THE CALORIES THEY CONSUMED BEFORE THE WORKOUT STILL COUNT TOWARDS THEIR DAILY LIMIT?! If you fast before a workout, you damn well are going to make up for that missed breakfast, but you end up eating the same amount anyway! \u00a0 1 meal before a workout + 2 meals after =\u00a0 3 meals. 0 meals before a workout + 3 after = 3 meals. COINCIDENCE?? \u00a0 You're all easily led.
Jerica2525512 Jerica2525512 4 years
I have a Question. I  eat a banana & drink a bottle of juice before my work out. I started to work out about a wk ago , but after my work out i eat a sandwich with turkey an a banana.. but i see that i gain 4 lbs. I dont know what to do . ! I work out on the elliptical for 40min an then i lift weight.. an i drink plenty of water. so what else i should do. 
GummiBears GummiBears 5 years
I usually eat a piece of fruit such as an apple before I workout. For me it works because I am less ravenous after my workout and make better eating decisions.
enginerdette enginerdette 5 years
I don't like eating at least 2-3 hours before I exercise because sometimes I'll get acid reflux... I eat post-workout and I feel just fine. It all depends on each individual...
trinachka trinachka 5 years
If I'm doing a 5:30am workout, I usually prefer not to eat first. Afterward I'm not starving; usually I'm just really thirsty, of course, and then a yogurt or oatmeal will do to lunch. For evening workouts, though, I do like to have eaten something about two hours beforehand; it's helpful after being up and working all day.
Susi-May Susi-May 5 years
Two tablespoons of PB is considered a serving, so one TBS is a half serving. I skip the bread though and eat a spoonful of PB or almond butter before my early runs.
GirlOverboard GirlOverboard 5 years
I might have to share this with my husband. I agree with Silver on not forcing yourself to eat if you're not hungry, but he tends to try and power through hunger when we work out after work. I try to get him to eat a handful of almonds or even some of the pretzels we get for free in the office, but he'd rather just get going. I, on the other hand, have little choice in the matter. Usually, shortly before my stomach starts to growl, I start to get light-headed. If I get as far as feeling notably hungry, I get woozy - not a good state to be in while trying to work out!
Spartygirl03 Spartygirl03 5 years
I am at the gym or starting my run within 30 minutes of waking up. I've tried eating a little before and not, it doesn't usually seem to matter for me. One note about the quite bite ideas - 1tablespoon of peanut butter on a half a slice of bread seems like quite a lot of PB. Is that right?
MrsLDC MrsLDC 5 years
Jenny- while I appreciate you sharing what works best for you, I don't necessarily think that working out on an empty stomach is always a bad thing. I think the point that needs to be driven home here is to listen to YOUR body. What might work for you, might not work for others. If you are hungry, eat a little something. If not, don't. I disagree with forcing yourself to eat, when in fact your body doesn't want it. Great snack ideas, though if and when you're wondering what to snack on before a workout! :)
beatriceh beatriceh 5 years
Thank you for posting this! I usually have to eat before a workout, but sometimes I'm just not hungry in the early morning. Do you have any suggestions?
Jenny-Sugar Jenny-Sugar 5 years
Yeah, you don't have to eat a huge breakfast before an early morning run. Just have a little something for quick fuel, and you can eat breakfast afterward.
sofiasmiles2011 sofiasmiles2011 5 years
This is good to know for my morning runs, thanks for the tip!
laurenislost laurenislost 5 years
It is getting harder and harder to take any source seriously anymore, even peer reviewed journals. Some science advocates this, while the other advocates that. Data can be manipulated for any side of the argument. Bottom line: do what works for you.
northen123 northen123 5 years
Finally! I still see so many articles advocating exercising on empty stomach - it's good to see this!
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