It’s no secret that when it comes to fitness, diet and exercise go hand in hand. What you eat is as important as how often you’re going to the gym, if not more so. But the challenge isn’t just deciding what to eat. You also have to be mindful about when you eat if you want to see results, so you’ve likely found yourself wondering whether it’s better to eat before or after a workout.
The truth is that whether you eat before or after a workout won’t have a negative impact on your fitness journey. However, deciding the best time to eat can help you maximize your workouts.
Let’s break down whether it’s better to eat before or after a workout and what you should be eating to help you perform better at the gym.
Benefits of a Pre-Workout Meal
You might’ve likely heard theories that you lose fat quicker if you exercise in a fasted state. However, that’s not entirely true.
When you exercise on an empty stomach, your body uses stored fat for energy. One study found that fat burning was higher when participants exercised on an empty stomach. However, there is no substantial evidence to suggest that exercising in a fasted state leads to more significant fat loss. Eating before a workout is also essential for helping you build muscle and become stronger.
Not only that but exercising on an empty stomach can affect your performance. It might feel like your muscles and bones are groaning as they try to push through the workout and resist hunger pangs. To improve your athletic performance and make the most of your workout, consider having a pre-workout meal. Here are just a few of the benefits of eating before a workout:
- Energizes you and gives you the fuel you need to complete your workout
- Preserves muscle mass
- Aids recovery post-workout
- Enhances focus
For optimal performance, it’s best to eat a pre-workout meal that’s relatively high in carbs and protein and lower in fats. Since your body will need some time to digest the food and convert it into energy, be sure to eat your meal at least 1 to 2 hours before you hit the gym, depending on what you eat. Typically, smoothies, fruits, and yogurt digest better than eggs, lean meat, or whole-grain toast.
Wheatgrass and its nutrients have also been associated with many health benefits, such as maintaining weight, decreasing inflammation, lowering cholesterol, and controlling sugar levels. It’s easy to grow, easy to use, and can be incorporated into any wheatgrass smoothie recipe with ease.
Benefits of a Post-Workout Meal
Most experts recommend eating something within 30 minutes after your workout. This is because your body uses its available energy while exercising and needs to be refueled.
Though eating a post-workout meal is essential for restoring your energy, there might’ve been times when you likely just didn’t feel hungry enough to want to eat after a workout. However, it’s essential to know that skipping a post-workout meal can slow down your recovery time. This would mean that your muscles remain damaged in the long term, and you run the risk of compromising your fitness goals or overexerting yourself. Here are some of the benefits of eating a post-workout meal:
- Enhances recovery
- Replenishes glycogen
- Rebuilds muscles
- Improves muscle growth
During the 30-minute window that you have after your workout, try to eat a snack that’s high in carbs and proteins, such as hummus and pita bread, a protein shake, or a rice cake with nut butter and banana.
Pre-Workout Meal vs. Post-Workout Meal: Which is Better?
When it comes to deciding whether you should eat before or after a workout, research is mixed. Some say working out in a fasted state is beneficial, while others say that eating after you work out has more benefits.
However, the truth is that choosing to eat before or after a workout depends entirely on several factors, including your preference, the intensity of your workout, and how regularly you exercise.
If you enjoy doing high-intensity interval training, then you’ll need energy before your workout. Along the same vein, if you’re training for a marathon and exercise frequently, you might find that you need to eat before and after you exercise.
Everyone is different, so it’s important to listen to your body to decide whether to eat before or after a workout.
Other Considerations for Achieving Fitness Goals
Figuring out whether to eat before or after a workout is essential, but in addition to nutrition, you also need to ensure you’re getting the best night’s sleep so you can achieve your fitness goals.
A good night’s rest depends entirely on the quality of your mattress, so be sure to invest in the most comfortable mattress. A hybrid mattress is a good choice because it’s designed to offer pressure-relieving rest, which means your muscles have a better chance of recovering.
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