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To Eat Or Not To Eat Before A Workout?

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5 Min Read

What and whether you should eat before an exercise routine depends on your fitness objectives. Lets dig deeper and find out more about how it all works.

In today’s article I cover one of the questions I get as a health and fitness coach: ‘What to eat before working out Ines?’

Some of the answers may surprise you!

I totally get it, you’re investing lots of sweat and tears in your workouts and training routine and don’t want to mess it up with your diet.

The question is, what would you like to achieve?

Do you want to lose a couple of pounds, get lean and have a strong healthy body or are you a professional fitness competitor, serious endurance runner or longtime bodybuilder?

This is important to know because, people who have the greatest benefits from specific nutritional strategies around their workouts are competitors and athletes.

As you’ve ended up on this website, I assume you’re not the next Arnold Schwarzenegger in female, but are looking for ways to lose some weight and get back in shape the healthy way.

Always focus on quality and quantity!

Think of your body like a machine, like the deluxe engine of your dream car. You’d never fuel it with the wrong form of fuel, cheap and dirty, right? Always focus on the right quantity and quality!

In other words, I don’t want you to go crazy with your pre- and post-workout meals, as long as you focus on eating real food and the correct macronutrient intake, you’re on the safe side.

Yet it makes sense to have a closer look.

When it comes to weight loss, your goal is to deplete your glycogen stores. Why? As soon as your glycogen stores are used up, your body dives into its fat reserves for energy instead of using glucose for energy. Boooom.

This is the moment when the magic happens and your body starts burning fat.

Your body makes glycogen mainly from carbohydrates because they are converted into glucose very quickly. This is the reason why it makes sense to limit your carb intake right before your workout session, especially if you want to burn body fat.

For best results, I’d recommend to only eat protein, healthy fats and non-starchy vegetables before you train.

Example of a pre-workout meal: Chicken salad

  • 1 x palm size portion of grilled chicken (or tempeh for my vegetarian peeps)
  • 3 x handful of vegetables or leafy greens salad (like spinach, arugula, broccoli, asparagus, carrots..)
  • 1 x handful of olives, nuts or seeds OR 1/2 x chopped avocado

Dressing: 2 tsp of olive oil mixed with juice of half a lemon, 1 crushed garlic, and a pinch of salt, pepper and chilli.

Timing

Make sure that you give your body enough time to properly digest your meal before you start your training. Especially if you’re doing one of the HIIT workouts, I highly recommend waiting 2 hours before you start your training.

Training On Empty Stomach, The Secret Sauce

If you don’t like to go crazy about what to eat before your workout, keep it simple and consider not eating at all.

Yep, you heard right.

If you’re able to train first thing in the morning, exercising on an empty stomach is actually especially great for fat loss. People who train in a fasted state become tremendously better at burning fat, especially at a higher intensity.

It’s all about the hormones. An empty stomach triggers a great deal of hormonal changes throughout your body that are surprisingly beneficial to both burning fat and building muscles.

Studies have shown that training in a fasted state not only boosts insulin sensitivity but is also an excellent way to build lean muscle mass. The reason for that lies not only in the beneficial hormonal response but also in the better absorption of the post workout meal.

In other words, fasted training makes sure that fats, protein and carbs go to the right places in the body and are only minimally stored as body fat. Yay.

Be Open

Training in a fasted state is definitely a different experience and needs to be monitored closely. In other words, listen to your body and take it easy.

You probably won’t be as energized as usual, but you’ll achieve incredible results in a very short period of time. So it’s worth a try.

If you’re like me and can not even think straight without food in your belly, just be open to the experience and give it a try.

Schedule your workout first thing in the morning put your workout gear next to your bed and write down what kind of workout structure and exercises you’re going to do in the morning. Plan ahead, jump out of bed and just do it!

Remember, it’s not a competition! The goal is to do the workout and to push through it. With time you’ll get stronger and it will get easier.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and feedback! Have you ever tried working out on an empty stomach? Are you gonna give it a try? How was your experience? Go ahead and leave a comment down below!

Ines Festini

Ines Festini graduated from the University of Vienna and is a certified fitness coach with additional training in nutrition. She strongly believes that leading a healthy and active lifestyle doesn’t need to be complicated nor time consuming and supported already hundreds of clients to successfully reshape their bodies and transform their lives. As an online optimize living coach she supports clients from all over the globe by discovering how to train the smart way (20 minutes is all you need!), eat clean and feel amazing especially when they struggle with time, lack of motivation and energy. She mainly works via Skype and is famous for her most effective 20 minutes.

Ines Festini

Ines Festini graduated from the University of Vienna and is a certified fitness coach with additional training in nutrition. She strongly believes that leading a healthy and active lifestyle doesn’t need to be complicated nor time consuming and supported already hundreds of clients to successfully reshape their bodies and transform their lives. As an online optimize living coach she supports clients from all over the globe by discovering how to train the smart way (20 minutes is all you need!), eat clean and feel amazing especially when they struggle with time, lack of motivation and energy. She mainly works via Skype and is famous for her most effective 20 minutes.