How to Eat Before and After You Workout

It is extremely important to fuel your body before a workout. Working out on an empty stomach does not allow your body to get enough efficient nutrients to kick- start your metabolism. On a basic level, working out on an empty stomach means you will not have the energy to put in to a really good workout. Studies show that working out on an empty stomach can cause you to burn muscle instead of fat. When you’re hungry, your body goes into survival mode and draws protein away from muscle, where it’s less crucial to survival, than from your kidneys and liver, where the body normally looks for protein.

This does not mean you have to eat a complete meal before working out. You do not want your stomach completely full because that can cause cramping and pains. You just need something light to spike your sugar levels a little. If you work out in the morning a banana or small pieces of fruit, yogurt, or oatmeal will do the trick. If you workout in the later in the day try to wait 3 hours after eating a big meal (600 calories or more), 2 hours after a small meal (300-400 calories), and 1 meal after a snack (100-200 calories) before exercising.

To help your muscles recover and to replace their glycogen stores, eat a meal that contains both protein and carbohydrates within 15-60 minutes after your workout. If you aren’t hungry after your workout, drink juice or a protein shake to replenish your nutrients. Having protein will burn fat and replace it with lean muscle to make you have the toned, firm body you want. To stay well hydrated for exercise, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends that you:

Drink roughly 2 to 3 cups (0.5 to 0.7 liters) of water during the two to three hours before your workout.

Drink about 1/2 to 1 cup (0.12 to 0.23 liters) of water every 15 to 20 minutes during your workout. You may need more the larger your body is or the warmer the weather is.

Drink roughly 2 to 3 cups (0.5 to 0.7 liters) of water after your workout for every pound (0.5 kilogram) of weight you lose during the workout.

Remember you are working hard to get to where you want to be. Keep healthy choices and try not to have more than 600 calories in a meal. Your body can only metabolize about that amount in a two hour time period. No matter how much you work out, you will not get the body you want if you eat junk. So be smart and stay on the healthy path to success!

-Shannon Flanagan