Fueling your body is the foundation for a successful workout – but when should you eat? Let’s get to the bottom of this fitness question once and for all.
There are tons of quirky rules that people swear by, when it comes to working out. Some are valuable pieces of information, some people just make up on the spot to sound intelligent and some are just so wild and out there sounding, that you think to yourself, “Wow, that is pretty crazy but, that’s almost impossible to have made up without experience!”
One of my least favorite rules floating around the fitness world is, “You shouldn’t eat before or after your workout!” Uh, okay? So, does that mean that I should eat in the middle of my work out? Like I should have a kale salad resting in my right cup holder on the treadmill as a I get my cardio in? No, it doesn’t mean that. So, does it mean that I just don’t need to ever eat and that working out is the only thing I need to do to lose weight and be healthy? No, it definitely doesn’t mean that. I would much rather you eat that dang salad on the treadmill, before I would ever want you to just not eat anything at all.
By not eating anything at all, you are going to eventually experience firsthand what it feels like to have your body shut down. You won’t be able to think clearly and you most definitely won’t be able to walk around your house for extended periods of time, let alone lift weights and workout on cardio equipment. So ending nourishment to your body is definitely not the answer.
Eating right before a workout? Eh, it’s definitely not ideal. You know when you were a kid and your parents or babysitter told you that you had to wait half an hour before you could get in the pool to swim after you ate? Well, you probably didn’t like hearing that as a kid, because it prevented you from doing what you wanted to do. Well, sorry my friends. Your parents and babysitters knew what they were talking about. The same rule pretty much applies to working out. No matter if it is right before you begin a workout or after you have already gotten to the halfway point, eating isn’t a great idea. Your body needs time to take your food through the whole digestive process BEFORE you send it on another grueling task. Sure, our bodies are amazing things and can do some wild stuff, but you don’t want to overload them.
You risk potential cramps while trying to do too much physical activity while your body is still in digestive mode. This can lead to your muscles not performing right and that in turn, can lead to potential injuries. Not to mention, you also risk your body giving you back that food. That’s right, throwing it all up. Take it from someone who works in the gym and has cleaned up their fair share of things that the body has to offer; no one wants to clean up your half-digested chicken breast or protein shake.
The ideal times for you to eat are going to be within 30-45 minutes before a workout and 30-45 minutes after a workout. Give yourself a little bit of natural sugar, carbs and some protein. This is the type of fuel your body needs before being pushed. When it comes to eating after your workout, primarily after weight training, it is ideal to eat something with a high protein content. Protein is needed to help your muscles fuse back together better and stronger after a good, strenuous workout.
You now have a more educated approach to eating around your workout. Now you just need to go put it into action! To get the best results possible from your efforts, share what you have learned with your friends and family!