If you feel hungry before a workout, you have to eat or reschedule the session. Exercising on an empty stomach is a very bad idea. However, if you want to protect your health while ensuring maximum efficiency of your workout, you’ll need to eat the right foods before it.
Why You Shouldn’t Exercise When Hungry
There are many advocates of working out while you are hungry because, supposedly, this will make you burn more fat. And it actually will, but the negative consequences of this approach far outweigh any seeming gain.
That’s because exercising while you are hungry means that your body doesn’t really have the energy to exercise with. Of course, it will take some from burning the fat, but it will ‘eat up’ the muscles too (European Journal of Applied Physiology). Not having enough energy but pushing yourself physically will also slow down your metabolism because your body will see this as an extreme threat. This means that it will start burning the calories at a slower pace.
There is also a study, which proves that people who eat before exercise can easier suppress their appetite after it. This means you won’t feel positively ravenous and undo all your hard work at a gym by overeating. If you try not to give in and eat only a small portion, you risk fatigue, dizziness, anemia, and other nasty symptoms that come from not getting enough nutrition while your body overexerts itself.
Note that without energy you also won’t be able to do your best during exercise. Therefore, you will burn fewer calories overall and put your health at risk if you try to work out while hungry.
How and When to Eat Before a Workout
Of course, it’s always best to make sure you aren’t starving in the first place. This can be hard if you are only getting used to a new diet with a smaller amount of calories. That’s why it’s essential to research how to control your appetite to lose weight. By planning your meals wisely, you’ll be able to prevent extreme bouts of hunger during the day. Therefore, a light pre-workout snack will be all you need.
You definitely need to use this trick if you are a busy person with an unstable schedule. Note that you shouldn’t exercise for at least two hours after a large meal. So it’s best to eat about five small meals a day to ensure you can work out anytime.
The time for a pre-workout snack is about 45-60 minutes before you start. You shouldn’t cut it to 30 minutes. The closer the snack to your exercise time, the lighter it should be. You should focus on foods that are easy to digest and which contain more carbs than protein. For example, fruit with a bit of Greek yogurt or a specialized protein nutrition bar will be good.
If you plan to eat 2-3 hours before exercise, you should pack more protein into your meal. Go for some oatmeal with fruits and a handful of almonds. A chicken sandwich with low-fat dressing and some veggies is another good option. So is a salad with turkey breast and some greens.
Eat light and healthy to give yourself energy and you’ll be able to achieve more with your workout.