Should you eat before a workout?

MYTH: Never Eat Before a Workout

The Truth: You should always eat something before exercising so your body has enough fuel to power through your workout.

The rationale behind this widely accepted myth is that forgoing food before exercise will force your body to burn more fat during your workout. This is a big, fat lie: Starving yourself before exercising can actually be detrimental to your body. Let’s get to the bottom of this fitness myth once and for all.

You need sugar to exert energy. Your body needs a certain amount of sugar for fuel when training. When that blood sugar is not there, your body will convert your own muscle tissue into energy. A recent study published in the Strength and Conditioning Journal looked at cyclists who ate before they trained versus those who fasted before they trained. The amount of fat burn was the same for both groups, but those who had trained without eating first had 10 percent of their calorie burn come from protein — including their own muscle mass. You’re trying to buildmuscle, not eat away at it!

Your body needs energy to perform at a high intensity.You know I’m always saying that I want you to work out as hard as you can for as long as you can. How can you do that if you haven’t properly fueled your body? Think about it this way: Would you drive a car without gas? Use your iPhone without charging it? Nope and nope. If you haven’t eaten anything, your workout won’t be as intense as if you’d fueled up beforehand, not to mention that you’ll likely suffer from low blood sugar, which will make you dizzy and sluggish.

You don’t need to gorge yourself; a healthy snack will do the trick. I suggest you eat something 45 minutes to an hour before training — you’ll have more energy and endurance to work harder, burn more calories, and improve your muscle tone. Aim for something with carbohydrates and protein. Here are a few quick, healthy ideas: a whey shake, low-fat yogurt with berries, or a banana or apple slices with natural almond butter.

The Bottom Line:

You should always eat something before a workout. I’m not suggesting you pig out. A small, healthy snack consisting of carbohydrates and protein will properly fuel your body for a killer workout.


MYTH: Never Eat Before Bed

The Truth: It doesn’t matter what time you eat — the only thing that matters is the amount of calories you’re consuming.

We all have crazy schedules these days, so rules of how to dictate what time you eat can be pretty hard to follow. Is it really necessary to restrict your meals to certain times to lose weight? Keep reading to watch me bust this myth once and for all.

Calories don’t tell time. This myth stems from the long-rumored belief that you should stop eating two hours before you go to sleep. Has any reputable expert ever stated that this myth is fact? No, simply because it’s a bunch of B.S. You don’t gain more fat from the calories you consume if you eat them at 9 p.m. versus 7 p.m. Like I stated above, calories don’t tell time! You will consume the same amount of calories whether you eat them earlier or later, and your body will digest those calories the exactsame way.

Late-night meals can lead to overeating. The one caveat of this myth is that when people eat later at night, they tend to consume more calories. Late-night eating is associated with obesity because if you’re waiting to eat until very late, you may wind up overeating. It may be that you’re a late-night snacker and your snack choices and quantities get out of control, or you eat a really late dinner and wind up splurging on a gluttonous dessert. Yet remember, it’s the food that is making you fat in this case, not the fact that you’re eating before bed. If you must eat later at night, plan your meals out ahead of time and don’t eat more than you intended.

Eating late at night may cause you to skip breakfast.  Another thing that happens when you eat late at night is that you might still feel full the following morning. This could result in you skipping breakfast. As the saying goes, breakfast is the most important meal of the day and study after study has supported that fact. A healthy breakfast helps you reduce your hunger throughout the day and gives you energy. If you skip breakfast, you’ll end up ravenous at lunchtime and eat way more calories than intended. So even if you eat late at night and wake up still feeling relatively full, have a light breakfast like a piece of fruit with nuts or a low-fat Greek yogurt — it will help to control your hunger throughout the rest of the day!

The Bottom Line:

You’ll consume the same amount of calories whenever you decide to eat — yet when some people eat late at night, they’re more likely to over eat and skip breakfast the next day. Keep that in mind and plan your meals out ahead of time, and avoid overeating by stopping eating when you are full!