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Should you eat before a workout?

Working in the City, we tend to have a lot of early morning sessions for clients looking to get a workout in before they start work. For a number people they have no desire to eat first thing in the morning and as a result turn up to a session on an empty stomach. Should you eat before a workout regardless of what time it is? The answer is yes you should. 

Particularly early in the morning you should ensure to have something small to eat before your workout. Turning up for a session having not eaten for the last 8 to 10 hours is a bad idea. You may initially feel fine but as the session progresses you will inevitably start to feel a drop in energy very quickly, which will ultimately affect your overall performance and put you at a greater risk of injury.

Whether you eat before or after your workout you will burn the same amount of calories, even though more of those calories will be from fat. The difference is the quality of your session will be far better if your body is well fuelled.

Strenuous exercise on an empty stomach can also increase the production of the stress hormone cortisol, which can lead to a breakdown of muscle tissue. This is the exactly the opposite of what you want. A break down of muscle will lead to a drop in your body’s metabolism i.e. you will burn less calories.


So what should you have before a workout?

The key thing is to keep it small, have something 1 or 2 hours before your workout. A mixture of carbs and protein is always good. Scrambled eggs, fruits, or a small ball of oats are all ideal options to help kick start your day.



F. Willcutts, A. R. Wilcox, K. K. Grunewald Energy Metabolism During Exercise at Different Time Intervals Following a Meal. Int JSports Med (1988); 09(3): 240 – 243

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