Should You Eat Before or After Your Workout?
Your poor eating habits can prevent you from staying active and fit. Eating the right foods before and after a workout can provide your body with the fuel it needs to make it through the last ten minutes of your workout. So, should you eat before or after your workout? While everyone's body is different, you can use the reasons below for eating before and after your workout.
Three Reasons to Eat Before a Workout
Eating Carbs for Energy
Most people are confused on whether to have protein before or after workout. They assume that protein is the best fuel for energy – especially when it comes to strength training. While protein is important for building and repairing muscles, carbohydrates energizes your body after workouts. It's your body's best energy-efficient fuel sources because of how it uses oxygen.
Carbohydrates use less oxygen for every kilocalorie of energy that's produced. That's why it's an important part of your diet, especially if you workout two or three times a week. Fat can burn at a slower rate with carbohydrates, which can slow you down. That's why it's important to eat carbs before a workout session.
Eating Protein for Recovery
Your body need protein to help repair muscle damage prior to a workout. Protein contains amino acids, which provide building blocks for your muscles. The right amount of protein can help you recover from a workout, especially if you're a strength trainer or runner. Having some form of protein in your pre-workout meal can prevent muscle soreness.
Eating Healthy Fats for Endurance
Most people want to reduce their fat intake, but removing it from your diet can slow down your performance. You need the right amount of fat for endurance. If you spend over an hour in the gym, then your body will use the stored fat as energy after your glucose levels have depleted. That doesn't mean fat is beneficial for everyone.
According to several studies, saturated and trans fats increase blood cholesterol levels and low-density lipoprotein, also known as bad cholesterol. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can help your body regular its cardiovascular health, hormone restoration, immune system, and oxygen levels. Fats are just as important as carbohydrates for providing fuel and energy for your body.
Three Reasons to Eat After a Workout
Low Blood Sugar and Lightheadedness
If you're someone who likes to exercise in the early morning or evening hours without eating beforehand then you're likely to feel lightheaded or dizzy afterward. It causes your glycogen stores to dip, which your body needs to stabilize your blood sugar levels. The glycogen is then replaced as you use up your energy, but it can take a bit of time, so you might be feeling tired and famished after a while.
While your brain is trying its hardest to store energy, it can lose some of its cognitive functions. If your brain loses out on sugar, then it can use the other energy sources which is how you get that lightheaded feeling. This is especially the case if you haven't eaten for a while.
Muscle Loss & Cramps
Your body loses glycogen following a workout. Then it has to use another energy source, such as fat or muscle. If you're body isn't getting enough fat or muscle, you could lose muscle loss which leads to cramping. If you sweated for a straight hour, you could lose electrolytes, which can also cause muscle cramping.
If you don't drink before, during, and after your workout, then you're more likely to end up dehydrated. Exercising during normal conditions can cause excessive dehydration and sweating. If you don't drink enough water, it'll lead to an electrolyte imbalance, which can cause heart arrhythmias or palpatations. Your body needs enough electrolytes to maintain normal heart and muscle function.
This only happens if you're extremely dehydrated and you overworked your body with exercise. It can also happen if you take a diuretic before your workout, which can lead to electrolyte imbalance. The best way to prevent this problem is to drink water or something with electrolytes, such as Gatorade or Powerade.