I get this question a lot; should I eat or not before a workout? And if so, what should I eat? Like most things fitness and nutrition, there is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Too many variables exist to prescribe a “perfect” solution. Here’s what works for me, depending on what time of day I am working out, assuming an hour-ish workout (longer pre-workout fueling will require a separate post!).
If I’m working out first thing (within 1-2 hours of waking up), I typically don’t eat anything. I may start with a glass of lemon water and a cup of coffee (with stevia or almond milk). If I wake up with a grumbling stomach, I may have a spoonful of almond butter or Nuttzo. Why? It provides energy by way of healthy fat, doesn’t fill me up with too much fiber, and takes the edge off of hunger.
If I’m working out at any other time of the day, I avoid eating any full meal 1-2 hours before working out so that food has time to move out of the stomach and start to digest so that it can provide energy to my body. When I do eat an hour or two before exercise, I try to keep it light and avoid too much fiber. Don’t get me wrong, fiber is awesome for many reasons, but it can make for a really uncomfortable workout.
I also want to make sure that I am properly hydrated. By properly I mean that I sip water throughout the day, or slowly drink a glass between the time I wake up and enroute to my workout (if first thing in the morning). I don’t mean that you should chug a glass right before you workout so that it is sloshing around in your stomach doing anything but hydrating you.
Ultimately, the best thing to do is to test out different options to see what works for you. Maybe you need a banana, maybe you can’t stomach anything. Try out different things and take note of how they affect your energy levels. Your preferences may change based on the type of workout and the time of day, so pay attention to how you feel before, during and after your workout and as always, listen to your body!
What do you do? Leave comments below!