We all know breakfast is the most important meal of the day because if our parents didn’t tell us, some know-all on a TV ad flogging cereal shoved it down our throats. But if you’re planning to train afterwards, the (heart)burning question is: should you eat before a workout?
For more than 25 million of us this might be a moot point because a staggering 50 per cent of the UK does not eat breakfast regularly.
From 2012 to 2015 those regularly skipping the first meal of the day doubled. Busier lifestyles and body image concerns were the leading reasons given.
But what if you want to exercise in the morning? Should you eat before a workout?
Yes. Or no, is the seemingly unhelpful answer.
If we combine exercise with the morning commute, through running or cycling to work, then travelling in a ‘fasted’ state. ie. not having eaten since the previous evening, might be the only practical option.
To eat and then fully digest even a light snack would demand rising rather earlier than most of us would like - and the extra hour in bed will benefit us far more physiologically than getting up to fuel before training.
There is also evidence showing ‘fasted’ training means we can become more attuned to using fat as a means of energy.
For an endurance athlete increasing fat burning abilities is a big win - while our body’s carbohydrate stores need topping up at around two hours of relatively intense exercise, we have almost endless fat to use.
If you do wake up hungry and don’t have the time for your gut to digest a full breakfast then a quick snack is advisable.
Forcing yourself through fasted training if you have hunger pangs is not going to make for an enjoyable session, so grab a piece of toast and jam, or a banana before you head out - your tummy will soon tell you if it doesn’t like it.
Eating whole foods are the way to go - but not the skin
For training for the rest of a regular 9am to 5pm day, there’s no need to eat before you workout. If it’s a lunchtime jog, eat lunch afterwards, if it’s an evening workout then have dinner when you’re showered and settled.
As is quickly evident, the focus should not be on eating before training, but making sure that you have real quality food and fuel to recover.
This can take some simple practical preparation. Can you have breakfast at work after your commute? Is your evening workout scheduled early enough so you can comfortably eat before bed?
It’s worth noting that your perception on food often changes pre and post workout as all good intentions to eat a healthy recovery meal can go out of the window when you’re tired and hungry post-exercise.
Eating before a workout is less important than refueling brilliantly afterwards - it’s in recovery that your training gains are really made.
Make maxing yours out easy - and delicious - with 33Fuel’s unique Pre and Post Workout Shakes
This is where 33Fuel’s Pre and Post Workout Shakes come into their own.
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So, should you eat before a workout?
The answer is don’t sweat it either way and go with what feels best. But it is important to take time to fuel your body properly afterwards - this is where your training gains are truly made.
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