Fitness Fact Or Fiction: Can You Exercise Right After Eating?
I’d have to say that one of the biggest mistakes that trainees make is with the timing of their pre-workout meal. It seems many of you are confused by the ideal time to eat prior to a workout to get the most energy. Some of you are wolfing down big pre-workout shakes, others are exercising on an empty stomach…
So the question is: Can you exercise right after eating?
While this may sound like it’s not a big deal, it actually is. First we need to clarify exactly what ‘eating’ means in this instance. The idea behind eating before a workout is to give your body the fuel it needs to power through a workout and in some instances, prevent muscle protein breakdown. The most common mistake I encounter is trainees who eat whole food meals within an hour of hitting the gym. In my opinion this isn’t the best idea and here’s why…
First, within that hour time frame very little of the food you’ve eaten has actually started to break down and supply energy. Second, when you eat whole foods that are high fiber that really get the metabolic machinery moving, your body has to concentrate much of its energy and blood supply on digestion. Now when you go to exercise the working muscles call for oxygen and it becomes a tug of war between the two. This can lead to nausea, lethargy and a general feeling of well…not feeling well!
That said there is a way to combat this though. I usually recommend that if you want to eat real food prior to a workout, try to get it in about 90 minutes beforehand. This way you’ll be less likely to experience the symptoms I’ve discussed and will hopefully have eaten the right foods to give you energy. My suggestions would be sweet potatoes, brown rice, oatmeal etc. along with a small, lean protein source. These foods digest slowly and provide a steady steam of blood sugar for sustained energy.
If you’re inside the hour time frame prior to a workout, I suggest foods that are easier to digest and require less work for your body to process. Examples of these foods would be bananas, raisins, grapes etc. and of course whey protein shakes, or even a combination power shake. This type of ‘meal’ will get in your system quickly provide quick energy and more likely than not, won’t interfere with your workout or make you feel ill. Plus as an added benefit, whey protein shakes have been shown to be ‘muscle sparing’ when taken right before a workout.
Now I have to tell you this is once again another instance where we’re all very different. I’ve met many people who can eat regular meals, hit the gym and be fine. In fact I know some who need to eat right before or else they crash hard in the first ten minutes. Then you have people like me, who perform best when training on an empty stomach. In my case, I like to workout usually before my first meal of the day and if not, three hours or more after my last bite. It just works best me and I’ve noticed I have more stable energy. I also believe that you know your body best and that you can become accustomed to functioning with or without food prior to exercise.
The biggest take away from this post is that food is fuel first and foremost. If you expect high performance from your body then put high performance in the tank. As a rule, prior to a workout eat a lighter meal, with foods that will supply awesome nutrients and not bog down your digestive track. Even super cars that race on the tracks only fill up with enough gas to power around the track, because a full tank would weight the car down. You get the point!
Can you exercise right after eating? I’d have to say you can, but I wouldn’t suggest it. Based on my twenty years of personal training and due to what I’ve seen in trainees, I’d have to say this is FICTION.
All information contained within this site, Angry Trainer Fitness.com, is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any health problem – nor is it intended to replace the advice of a physician. No action should be taken solely on the contents of this website. Always consult your physician or qualified health professional on any matters regarding your health or on any opinions expressed within this website. Please see your physician before changing your diet, starting an exercise program, or taking any supplements of any kind.
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about 9 months ago - No comments
Dear Alfonso, When is the best time to eat prior to weight lifting vs. cardio? I am on round 2 of P90X and incorporating a walk-to-run program as part of my workout. I generally wait an hour after eating before a weight lifting routine. I wish I could just hop out of bed and get…
about 11 months ago - 5 comments
Time for another Fitness Fact Or Fiction here on the site – and this one creates a lot of confusion. Should you eat an hour before a workout or not? And here’s the short answer – yes AND no! How’s that for a mixed message! First up I think we need to clarify the word…