Hey Angels and Alphas,
We all know when you’re trying to lose weight, you’re learning about nutrition as you go. You learn how to count calories, how to strike a balance of macronutrients, how to schedule meals, how to meal prep, how to snack effectively, all the good stuff.
But when we’re talking about adding exercise into the mix, pre-workout and post-workout fuel become two things we instantly start considering.
Nutrient timing before/after exercise is a hotly debated topic in the world of fitness and nutrition because there are obvious physiological benefits to eating both before and after a workout. Your body mainly relies on stored energy in the form of carbohydrates (glycogen,) and body fat so it can fuel your workouts.
On top of that, you need adequate protein and carbs to later rebuild after a long, strenuous workout.
If you had to choose, you should know there the research out there on which is better – eating before a workout or after it – is scarce and recommendations vary from person to person.
That’s why today, we’re exploring both sides of the story by looking at the potential upsides and downsides and comparing them as objectively as possible (and as experts have debated.)
EATING BEFORE A WORKOUT
While both post and pre-workout nutrition are vital to proper training, eating before a workout may bring bigger benefits to those looking to lose weight.
In particular, pre-workout snacks or small meals that include easy-to-burn carbohydrates have been shown to boost performance, and in turn, the number of calories you burn.
While more research is needed, eating before a workout is known to increase the amount of fat you burn compared to how much you would have burned if you fasted.
Though some research out there shows that there may be advantages to exercising in a fasted state (for fat burning,) the average person who is trying to lose weight will just get tired more easily if he works out on an empty stomach.
With diminished performance, reduced motivation, early fatigue, and difficulty concentrating, it’s no surprise little to nothing gets done in terms of calorie burn during that workout. Research shows pre-workout snacks top off your stores of ready-to-go energy, allowing you to exercise for longer at high intensities.
While it may seem counterintuitive, proper nutrition will just allow you to burn more calories.
EATING AFTER A WORKOUT
While it’s a fact that post-workout fuel promotes muscle growth, those added calories could hinder weight loss, especially if we’re talking about a meal or snack you wouldn’t have otherwise eaten.
What’s more, a meal consumed before exercise may have a similar effect to muscle-building just like immediately eating after a workout, or at least that’s what the latest research is finding.
When you are trying to slim down, it’s vital that you implement a meal high in carbs and protein after you work out to make sure you’re burning fat but minimizing the amount of muscle you’re burning.
Studies suggest that the best way to make sure you’re getting the most out of your weightlifting sessions is to refuel with carbs and proteins.
Until there’s more research on the table, it’s really difficult to say whether eating before or after a workout is the best solution for weight loss. Ultimately, though, experts agree that if you want to shed pounds, you need a well-balanced diet regardless of its timing.
To avoid adding any extra calories and ruining your weight loss efforts accidentally, just ensure you’re scheduling your workouts between meals that are already a part of your usual meal plan.
Think about it: a small breakfast of fast-digesting carbs like peanut butter on toast, when followed by a recovery snack with protein and carbs such as a turkey sandwich, will get you a ton of energy that you need for the day and for your workout. And don’t forget to hydrate – hydration is vital for keeping your energy levels up once they’re up, during and after your gym sessions.
And remember, consistency always beats perfection at the end of the day. Try it out, experiment, see what works for you and how you respond to both approaches. Note what you eat with a food log, follow the trends, and you’ll discover the trends and patterns that will lead you to the progress you truly desire.