Because exercise won’t be the only solution providing the results you want, it also depends on how you recover and fuel your body

By Nicole Ganglani | Art by Saii Shah | Photo from Pexels

There are two different kinds of people who work out: One who prefers to fuel up and eat before working out while the other prefers to eat after. Whichever you are, let me tell you this: it doesn’t matter when you eat but what food fits your workout routine. At the end of the day, proper nutrition is undefeated—it has the ability to both fuel your exercise before working out and helps the body recover and adapt after exercise.


Not eating before a short-duration workout won’t affect your performance

When we say short-duration workout, we mean the 45-minute to one hour exercise people try to squeeze in every day. Remember that your body has approximately 2,000 calories for glycogen (AKA stored energy) that fuels your exercise even if you haven’t eaten for hours. That’s why studies have pointed out that there is no difference between eating before or after a one hour cycling session or even a high intensity workout (HIIT). 

However, eating before working out largely depends on the person. For example, if you choose to work out after work, it’s best to eat lunch or your pre-workout meal beforehand. But if you decide to sweat first thing in the morning, then a cup of black coffee could be the perfect fuel for you. No one knows your body more than yourself so it’ll be up to you to know what you prefer. 

If you don’t eat before working out, make sure to eat after

Eating right after you work out is especially important if you are fasting. Exercise won’t be the only one providing the results you want, it also depends on how you recover and fuel your body. That’s why it’s best to consume both protein and carbohydrates right after exercising in order to repair your muscles and back up your glycogen stores. 

Again, it all depends on what you prefer. If you feel like eating and consuming all your calories before you work out, then that’s fine since the nutrients are still present in your body after exercising. But if you’re the type to fuel after you work out, make sure to load up on protein especially if you’ve been fasting the whole day. 

Eating before a long-duration workout is a must

Meanwhile, eating before a long interval workout is a different story. If you plan on working out for more than an hour or for training purposes, then it’s best to fuel up before exercising. A study on the effects of fasted versus fed-state exercise on performance and post-exercise metabolism has proven that people perform better if they consume food before an exercise that lasts longer than one hour. The same study recommends eating slower-digesting carbs (whole grains for example) several hours before exercise to effectively fuel the body. 

It all depends on your preference and workout routine

Your personal preference is the biggest factor when it comes to deciding whether you should eat before or after working out. Ultimately, your nutrition will depend on what you consume, not when. You have to know what your body is more comfortable with and what will help you abide by your calorie consumption every day.