Should You Eat or Not Before and After Gym Workouts?

Should You Eat or Not Before and After Gym Workouts?

FITPASS Editorial Team01 October, 2018Updated on : 17 May 2024

On the one hand, food gives you energy, uplifts your mood and keeps you alive. On the other, food affects your health. This ever existing paradox has led us to the concept of a balanced diet, choosing the right food and the right time to eat. But the analytic approach to food has also led to certain myths regarding proper food habits. For instance, eating less promotes more weight loss.

Currently, this notion has completely changed. Now, people are more encouraged to eat healthy food and not skip meals. As you go deeper into your fitness and diet regime, you will have more questions hovering around your head. One of the common ones being, should you eat or not before and after workouts? Scroll down to know the right answer to this question:    

Should you eat before you hit the gym?

eat before you hit the gym

The answer is yes. It is because food gives you energy. And, that energy comes from calories. There is no doubt that you should burn calories. But in order to do that and give your best in your workout session, you need to have energy. See the loop of contradiction you got caught in!

When you work out, you burn the glucose store of glycogen in your muscles and liver cells. When this store is drained from your body, you feel tired.

Fact check: Your body stores about 2,000 calories in the form of glycogen. Draining all of it in one go requires an intense and prolonged session of workout that will leave you dizzy, tired or weak. Too much of anything is seriously bad for your health.

So, a small snack an hour before workout is essential. However, if you want to have a full blown meal before exercise, consider keeping a gap of three to four hours in between. Beginning your workout right after a meal may land you with stomach cramps and diarrhea.      

3 Best Foods You Should Have Pre-Workout

Your pre-workout diet should consist of foods which are high on carbohydrates that give you energy. The quantity of protein should be moderate. Make sure the amount of fat and fiber are negligible. It is because fat and fiber slow down digestion leading to gastrointestinal issues during workouts. Here are the three best foods you can have before working out:

pre-workout diet

  • Bananas: Boost your glycogen stores at least 30 minutes before your workout with banana. Bananas are a natural store of healthy sugar, carbohydrates, and potassium. You can even add some peanut for a smack of protein.
  • Chicken and veggies: Chicken and veggies are good sources of lean protein and vitamins. Couple it with a moderate amount of rice to make it the classic pre-workout meal. The rush of amino acids provided by this meal promotes muscles growth.
  • Oatmeal:  Oatmeal provides a good combination of carbohydrates, soluble fiber, and beta-glucan. The presence of fiber will make you feel full for long hours slowing down the release of energy. You can add some protein powder or peanut butter for a sufficient amount of protein.   

But What About Eating after Workouts?

health and diet plan

You should definitely have something post workout, even if not immediately. It is because your body needs a replenishment of the nutrients it has lost. Long fasting hours after workouts can result in fatigue, low blood sugar, minor injuries, dehydration and depletion of calcium, salt, and potassium. Prolonging the habit of skipping meals after workouts can also result in arrhythmia or irregular heartbeats.  

If it has been over 4 hours since your pre-workout meal or snack or your workout includes weight lifting and weight gain exercises, then you should eat right after to prevent muscle loss. On a general note, you should eat within 30 minutes of your workout to give your body the necessary nourishment.

3 Best Foods You Should Have Post-Workout

After a workout, it is essential to recuperate your lost energy. Moreover, as metabolism post workout is at its peak, you also need to protect yourself from excessive muscle loss and injuries. It is, therefore, important that your post-workout meals or snacks contain healthy carbs, protein, and fiber. Here are the three foods you can have after an hour of intense workout:

Eggs Best Foods You Should Have Post-Workout

  • Eggs or Smoked Salmon: We all know there are multiple benefits of eggs. It is high on protein and Vitamin D, keeps blood sugar in check, etc. So, whether you are lifting weights or are engaged in intense cardio, having it post workout is going to benefit you and your body. An alternate protein filled food item is salmon. It consists of omega – 3 fatty acids, Vitamin B, potassium, and antioxidants. Salmon, therefore, helps in weight loss and protects you from muscle soreness.  
  • Sweet potato or Quinoa: Carbohydrates play an important role in keeping your immune system safe and healthy. That’s why including sweet potatoes and quinoa in your post-workout meal or snack is essential. As after workout, your metabolism engages in calorie burn, this carb intake helps you to keep yourself energized rather than accumulate fat. Quinoa is also a storehouse of fiber. It, therefore, curbs your hunger for long hours.
  • Greek Yoghurt: Have Greek yogurt for a boost of carbs and protein in your diet. You can even mix it with cereals or berries to double the benefits of vitamins and minerals.   

Weight loss or maintaining a fit lifestyle does not mean you should skip meals. The trick is to have the right food in right proportions every day. Also, never skip on sufficient water intake. It stabilizes your metabolism, safeguards your immune system and keeps your body well hydrated.   

For more insight on diet, nutrition, and healthy eating habits download the FITPASS app today. Its in-app diet and nutrition solution, FITFEAST, not only helps you to keep a check on your calories, log your meals but also connects you to expert nutritionists available round the clock.