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Should You Eat a Pre-Workout Snack?

Why You Might Not Need That Pre-Workout Snack

For morning exercisers, deciding whether or not to eat something before a workout can be a constant question. For insight on whether or not training on an empty stomach can affect your performance, I asked Tabata-lover and Australia's The Biggest Loser trainer Michelle Bridges, whose newest book, The Total Body Transformation ($23) is available April 8, for her advice. On and off the show, Michelle is known for killer high-intensity workouts that have you gasping for air and extremely sore the next day (which is exactly how I felt recently after taking a class led by her) — if there ever was a time you would need extra energy, it would be in one of her workouts.

Her answer on whether or not she recommends clients eat something before a workout or instead exercise on an empty stomach, however, surprised me. "I don't think a snack is really necessary unless you know you lose energy during a session," Michelle says. If you find yourself getting lightheaded or dizzy during a hard workout, then you need a small snack of fresh fruit like an apple or a handful of grapes beforehand to give you the natural sugars you need to energize during your workout, she says. But many people may think they need a snack when they really don't. "For the most part, anyone who's normal weight or heavier, if they're feeling fatigued, it's normally because they're just feeling tired during the session, and it's not because they're hypoglycemic," she says.

In any case, like other trainers and exercisers, Michelle recognizes that eating before a meal is a personal preference. "Some people work out better on an empty stomach. . . . Some people are fine to eat a meal and then go train," she says. Don't force yourself to eat something if you feel fine exercising on empty, but if you know that you need something in your stomach before you hit the gym, then check out these low-calorie pre-workout snack ideas. And once you're done blasting calories at the gym, it's important that you fuel up quickly with protein and carbs. One of Michelle's favorite post-workout breakfasts is an egg-white omelet with spinach and mushrooms and whole grain toast.

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