How long before and after workouts should I eat?

exercises food tips health and fitness healthy tips Jan 04, 2023

 By Sophia McDermott, Lifestyle Coach & Fitness Expert. 

Nutrition and exercise are two of the most important factors for your overall health, and this combination is even more effective when they complement each other. That is: when you manage to feed yourself with the right nutrients at the right time in conjunction with your training. This will bring even more benefits to your body and help you to hit your goals faster. 

Here are some answers to some often asked questions concerning nutrition and working out…


Do I really need to eat before training?

Many people are supporters of fasting training and this, at first, seems to have a justification, since exercising without eating anything beforehand increases the body's ability to use fat as fuel because there aren’t readily available calories in the system and liver to use. 

However, a study by the National Institute of Health showed that this is not sustainable in the long term because the body gets used to it and improves its ability to keep sugar levels still high when you do frequent fasting exercises, preventing the body needs to burn fat, and scientists believe this is why there is no evidence of a difference in fat loss between people who eat pre-workout and those who don't. 


That is, according to science, not eating before training makes no difference in fat loss, in fact it just make your body more efficient at saving your fat stores. Meanwhile you are working out hungry for no reason. Lol  

but eating before training does affect the training itself, as shown by another research published in the Journal of Applied Physiology. According to this and several other studies, eating before training makes you perform better in exercises. And by performing better, we mean running faster or longer or lifting more reps or heavier weights..and this all culminates into more calories being burned in that session.

So with that said, it is very important to eat something before a training session. 


What to eat and how long before training?

Foods rich in carbohydrates are essential before training, so that you have energy and can do all the exercises correctly.However the type of carbohydrate is very important. 

Skip the breads, highly refined wheat flour products and baked goods and opt for carb dense vegetables such as sweet potatoes and plantains. Bananas are a great option too.

In general, 30-40 grams of pre-workout carbs is ideal, but you can go a little higher or lower depending on your goal. “If you want to gain muscle, you need to eat more than you spend on training. Therefore, the more intense the exercise, the greater the consumption of carbohydrates”.


Even if you want to lose weight, pre-workout meal is important so that you have the energy to train hard and  burn up the calories in your workout. So ensure that the last big meal (breakfast, lunch or dinner) before the gym has an adequate amount of carbohydrates and is eaten within two hours before training, “otherwise, have a small snack beforehand, such as fruit or some granola.”


Do I really need to eat after training?


It’s after training that your body sucks up nutrients like a sponge. SO if there is every time to eat it is after some intense training. Most of the calories will be going to refuel your glycogen stores and help your body repair itself. When we train (especially intense workouts), we damage our muscles, which are made up of proteins. Repair consists of replacing these old proteins with new ones. And where will you find new proteins? In food.


But this process also needs energy to happen, and if you're low on stores because you've just burned through the workout, recovery won't be effective and this will lead to fatigue, injury and a lowered immune system. One can’t do much training if they are injured or sick? In addition, by not eating, over time your body will make adjustments and become more effective at preserving the fat it has and burn less calories in the workout. . Therefore, it is super important to consume protein, good fats and carbohydrates for the body to use to recover, replenish and function properly.


What to eat and how long after training? 

Try to eat  as soon as possible after a hard training session. Your metabolism is thriving and ready to use the fuel you feed to replenish rather than store it as fat. Something quick and easy is ideal such as protein shake with a banana. Some fish and brown rice or eggs and sweet potato. These suggestions all have proteins and carbs in them for effective refueling. 

One other important thing to remember is to  ski

Skip the energy drinks. They are loaded with sugars and artificial flavours. Most of this is just fad marketing. Drinking water before and after your workout is always the best option.  

Overall, the ideal thing is to eat an adequate amount of carbohydrates and proteins up to 2 hours after training. Adding a little bit of good fats is beneficial too because the fats will slow down the release of sugar into their blood stream giving you a longer lasting energy stream during your workouts. 

Basically don't skip meals before or after your workouts. You need to fuel to get you through your workouts and to recover, to stay healthy, strong and full of vitality.