Should I eat before or after a gym work out


We’re all aware that what we eat is just as important as what kind of exercise we’re doing when we are trying to get healthy. With so much conflicting advice and opinions on what you should eat and when, it can be really hard to know if what you’re doing is right.  Eating right can have a huge impact on you because if you eat well, you’ll feel good.

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Common Misconceptions

Gym-workout-smoothieMany people believe that if you want to lose weight you shouldn’t be eating before the gym. This is untrue, if  anything this is worse for you than having a snack.

If you deprive yourself of food before you work out, you restrict your energy consumption. And if you have no energy, your work-out will never be as effective as it could be, which leads to you burning less calories overall.

A common mistake we often see if people drinking protein shakes before the gym, expecting that to fuel them. Protein is great for building muscle, but Carbs will fuel you and energize you much better.

If you are wanting to have a drink rather than a solid food before the gym, consider a smoothie or a shake designed for pre-work out.

Another common mistake is that you’ll feel sick if you eat before the gym. If you find yourself feeling sick after eating and working out you may need to consider what you’re eating and how much. A small snack such as a banana shouldn’t affect you, whereas a roast dinner 30 minutes before probably will.


Should you eat before the gym?

Having a meal before the gym, is a personal choice.
If it’s first thing in the morning many people do choose not to eat and if that works, there isn’t an issue with that. Many people do struggle with cramps though if they are eating first thing in the morning which in that case try having a smoothie or small bowl of oatmeal to start your day rather than a full meal.

As a general rule though, not eating at all is not a good idea particularly if you are doing a stressful work out such as HIIT or weight lifting.

It is important to just be sensible with when you’re eating and figure out what works for you. If you’re exercising later in the day you should have eaten meals throughout the day and if it’s been four hours or more since your last meal you should at least have a snack.


Eating After the Gym

The advice for eating after the gym can vary but as a general rule you want to consume in the half hour to hour after you’ve worked out. When deciding what to eat remember protein is the key element you want to focus on as it allows you to build and repair muscle which will help you tone and lose fat. Carbohydrates are important to aid recovery so you’re less sore the day after.


For those looking to lose weight…

If you’re aim is to lose weight, you need to focus on what you’re eating as opposed to how much you’re eating after the gym. If you can have a full balanced meal with plenty of protein, after working out, then that’s the best thing you can do. If not then consider having a snack such as a turkey sandwich, which has both protein and carbs and an apple to help fuel you.

If you want to rely on protein bars to help you get your protein intake then it’s important to do your research first as they can often have an incredibly high calorie count. Look for ones targeted to help with weight loss, that have a plenty of protein but a low-calorie count. It’s important to find the right ones for you, that will support the goal you’re aiming for.

For those aiming to build muscle…

Gym-workout-weightsIf you are trying to build muscle it is essential, you eat properly after the gym. Having a meal packed full of protein, is the best thing you can do. Try making meals such as chicken and rice, egg omelette with avocado on toast, or salmon with sweet potato. Protein shakes can also help you get protein into you very quickly and if you’re looking to bulk up then you don’t have to worry about the high calorie count of them. Just ensure you are selecting shakes designed to help build muscle with a higher calorie count, rather than the lower calorie shakes designed to help people slim down.


Food to avoid..

Although eating something is almost always better than eating nothing, there is some food you should avoid; such as spicy food as it is hard for your body to digest. You should avoid soda also as it will not replenish and hydrate your body properly which is what you need after a workout. You should also avoid fast food, even if you’re craving salt after your workout because it will not replenish your body or give it the nutrients it needs.


Don’t forget to hydrate yourself!

It’s also very important to ensure as well as eating you remember to replenish the water you will have lost through working out.

What to remember…

Overall you need to listen to your own body and figure out what eating schedule works best for you. Focus on eating balanced meals, with healthy snacks consistently and then tailor that routine to vary depending on whether you’re working out that day or not. If you have any questions about nutrition or are concerned you really don’t have it right, you can follow our Facebook: ImpactFitness which showcases some of the meals we make for ourselves!

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