In order to get the maximum benefit from your workouts, you need enough energy to get thru them. Food fuels your workouts, and it’s important to eat before exercising. Working out on an empty stomach will leave you low on energy and can cause your body to burn muscle tissue for energy. So regardless of what you’ve read, don’t exercise on an empty stomach!
Your body burns mostly carbs during exercise, so a pre-workout meal or snack consisting of mostly carbohydrates is your best bet. Carbohydrate digestion is quick, and carbs quickly provide energy for exercise. A small bit of protein is also good, but avoid meals very high in protein because protein takes longer to digest. When your body’s blood is in a war between digesting and providing oxygen to working muscles, you will find yourself nauseous and struggling to get thru your workout.
So… what to eat before a workout?
Here are my favorite pre-workout snacks that will fuel your body for an intense workout, while maximizing fat burn and muscle building.
- Banana – my all time favorite (I eat one before every early morning workout)
- Toast with jam or small amount of peanut butter or avocado
- Dry cereal
- Juice & pretzels
- Yogurt & fruit
If you’ve got enough time for a bigger meal, here are some good options.
- Hearty salad
- Oatmeal with fruit
- Cereal with milk
- Peanut butter & jelly
- Yogurt smoothie with protein powder
Bottom Line: Don’t exercise on an empty stomach. If you have 60-90 minutes, eat a well-balanced meal before working out. But if you only have 30-60 minutes, go for a smaller snack. Exercising on a full-stomach can be uncomfortable, so it’s definitely a fine balance and it can be different for each person.