The overall health of a person depends on two important factors – exercise and nutrition. Even, the two factors are inter-related to each other.
Adequate nutrition, not just fuels exercise but also help the body adapt and recover to new changes.
But one common question that most of my clients ask – Should we eat before a workout or after exercise?
Here’s everything you need to know about it!
Fed and Fasted Exercise Generate Different Responses
As per studies, the body responds to exercise can differ based on you eat something before exercise.
Exercising Fasted Augments the Body’s Potential to Use Fat as Fuel
The primary source of fuel for a body is carbohydrates and fat.
Fat is stored in fat tissue as triglycerides, while carbohydrates are stored in the liver and muscles as a molecule known as glycogen.
The level of blood sugar is higher before and during a workout when you eat before exercising. It makes sense as most of the meals designed before exercise offer carbs that the body uses for energy during the workout.
When one exercise an empty stomach, more energy needs of the body are met by the breakdown of body fat.
This mechanism between fat and carbohydrate metabolism is part of the body’s natural ability to work with or without a recent meal.
Exercising Faster Does Not Lead to Greater Loss of Body Fat
When your body fasts, it burns more amount of fat to release energy. As a result, it results in a greater loss of fat over time.
The potential of muscles to burn fat during exercise and the ability to maintain its blood sugar levels were enhanced with fasted exercise and not fed exercise. For this reason, researchers believe that the response of the body to exercising fasted would render more benefits in body fat than exercising after eating. However, there is potential evidence available for the alternate situation as well.
Avoiding Food Before Short-Duration Workout May Not Affect Performance
Most of the people who intend to perform at their best think if fasted workout can harm their performance.
Many types of research showed no difference in performance between the two who ate before exercise lasting less than one hour.
Further, numerous studies examining high-intensity interval training also reported no major difference in performance between fed and fasted exercise. One prominent benefit of eating before a short-duration exercise was not visible in the studies because of the body’s own ability to store energy.
Our body approximately stores 2,000 calories as glycogen and much more amount of body fat. The stored energy enables you to exercise if you have not consumed for hours. However, some studies have shown improvement when meals containing carbohydrate or supplements were consumed before the exercise.
Consume Before Long-Duration Exercise May Enhance Performance
An analysis of exercise lasts longer than one hour for studies reporting better performance when food was consumed before workout.
Most studies disclose an advantage of a pre-exercise feed offering a meal composed mainly of carbs. Consuming digestive carbs at a slower pace or eating many hours before exercise may advantage in long-duration performance.
But as far as athletes are concerned, consuming high-carb meals a couple of hours before exercise are ideal. There are also benefits of consuming carbs in an hour before exercise for long-term events.
Overall, there is evidence supporting the benefits of consuming before long-term duration as compared to short-duration exercise.
Eat Afterwards If You Don’t Consume Before Exercise
The significance of consuming before an exercise may vary based on the situation. But most researches agree that it is beneficial to consume after a workout.
Consuming nutrients particularly carbs and protein, can help your body adapt and recover after exercise.
In such a situation, nutrients aid recovery. For example, amino acids can build up proteins, while carbs are ideal to replenish the glycogen level of the body. But if you wish to exercise fasted, the body has fueled the workout using its own energy levels. In such a situation, it is extremely important to consume something soon after a workout.
It is essential to supply the body with enough nutrients in the hours during exercise. Hence, if you plan to not eat before exercise, try consuming something soon after exercise. Eating protein can help repair your tissues and muscles, while carbs can restore the glycogen stores.