The question of what to eat before heading to the gym is a hotly contested one. Proper nutrition is vital for overall health, and the right meal before working out can help your body perform to its peak and recover faster afterward.
It may also minimize muscle damage if you’re lifting weights. But emerging science says that fat burning may occur faster if you work out on an empty stomach.
In the end, the answer to what to eat before the gym depends on your fitness goals. Are you after endurance, muscle building, or weight loss? We’ll help you decide what’s best for you.
Each critical macronutrient plays a specific role during a workout. Understanding their unique functions will help you decide the ratio in which to consume them in order to meet your fitness goals.
Your muscles use the glucose they get from carbs for fuel. A form of glucose called glycogen is stored in the liver and muscles, then used to fuel short and high intensity exercise.
However, for longer periods of exercise, the way in which carbs are used by the body varies based on the type and intensity of workout you’re doing as well as your overall diet.
Because the glycogen stores in your muscles are limited, as the supply is depleted, your capacity for using them becomes less. Research studies show consistently that eating carbs before a workout increases glycogen stores and boosts carb oxidation during exercise.
Thus, carb-heavy meals are recommended for people who focus primarily on strength building with weights, or who intend for their workouts to be short and high intensity. If you happen to be training for a weight lifting competition or a foot race, eating a high-carb diet over 1-7 days has been shown to maximize glycogen stores in the muscles.