Eating Before vs. After Your Workout: Which Is Best For You?

Eating Before vs After Your Workout


When trying to improve your fitness level by losing weight, gaining muscle, or improving your agility, the exercises you choose to perform will direct your progress. But it’s not just what happens inside of the gym that determines your progress, your dietary choices are of great importance when it comes to improving your fitness and overall health. But it isn’t just the types of food that you choose that will affect your fitness achievements; the timing of your eating is also important.

Eating Before Your Workout

Since food fuels your body, if you have a strenuous workout planned, you will want to eat before your workout to ensure you have enough fuel to perform at your best. Whether training for strength, endurance, a specific sport, or some combination of all three, you can only get as much out of your workout as you put in. And your efforts will be directly related to how much fuel you have in the tank.

Eating before, but not after, your workout may also be beneficial for weight loss. Working out can increase your metabolic rate and decrease your hunger levels, so you may not even feel hungry after working out. If you’re attempting to lose weight, then you wouldn’t want to be packing in extra calories anyway. In addition, if you are more focused on weight loss and you are not concerned with building up muscle mass, then you won’t have to worry about refueling and rebuilding your muscles after exercise. As a result, you don’t need a large post-workout meal and can save on those calories.

Eating After Your Workout

While you may view eating after a workout as a hindrance to your weight loss efforts, it can actually be helpful for other pursuits, such as building muscle mass and strength. Strenuous workouts actually cause microscopic damage to your muscle fibers. In order to repair that damage, according to a nutrition consultant from Wisconsin Athletic Club, you need to consume nutrients such as protein following your workout. Thus, eating after your workout is crucial for building up your strength and increasing the amount of muscle mass on your frame.

Eating after workouts is also important if you engage in intense endurance workouts. Such exercise can be highly draining and if you want to continue performing at your best, you’ll need to eat after working out to refuel your muscles. Typically, such exercise burns so many calories that you don’t have to worry about gaining weight from eating a large meal after exercise.

Of course, there is no simple, one-size-fits-all answer for nutrition timing. Instead, the goals you are pursuing should dictate the best times to eat around your workout. Take into account your individual fitness and nutritional needs and schedule accordingly, mindful of your comfort levels and progress when you eat at certain times versus others.