Do you eat before or after working out

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Should you eat before or after working out -- And does it really matter?

The question of the day for workout aficionados is: do you eat before or after working out? And the answer: it depends. Those interested in finding the optimal time for carbohydrate and protein intake will need to assess when they exercise during the day, how they feel during (and after) their strenuous output, and what they want to accomplish with each workout.

In the end, each of us is a unique case. For those looking to help muscle recovery and replace depleted glycogen stores a meal after exercise will be best. On the flip side, a snack or a meal prior to exercise will help to power you through your workout by giving you the energy you need to perform. In essence, it's up to you.

Read on to find out more about proper eating schedules, best timetables for performance, and ways in which to get in your daily burn and feel great doing it - whether you are cycling, using fitness equipment, or doing other types of exercise.

For Morning Exercisers

For those looking to exercise in the morning, it's important to have a solid foundation in the way of breakfast. You should normally wait an hour or two before exercising if you plan on having a larger breakfast in the morning.

For those who'd like to lace up about an hour -- or sooner -- after a meal, try a smaller breakfast or a snack or sports drink of some kind to assist you in raising blood sugar before the main event. Focus on carbohydrates in order to make the most of your morning routine, such as:
  • Whole-grain cereals/bread
  • Low-fat milk
  • Bananas
  • Juice
  • Oatmeal, and more!

Without a meal before your morning jaunt around town or a weightlifting session at your local gym, you may feel lightheaded or weak due to a lack of energy. This will not help your performance so try a few different items before each session and find out which one works best for you.

Portions, Portions, and More Portions!

No matter if you exercise morning, noon, or night, portions can be a key component to either a resounding success or disastrous failure (see: stomach cramps, diarrhea, and other general feelings of sluggishness). Having too much may result in the aforementioned negatives during -- and after -- your workout routine. By taking in too little, you may risk a limit to your energy output during the most crucial of times.

So, what's a good way to decipher how much is too much? Or how little is too little? For larger meals, try to have them around three to four hours before exercising. Medium to small meals should be finished approximately two to three hours prior to your output. And small snacks can be taken in about an hour prior to your cardio and/or weightlifting routine is slated to begin.

For snacks, try:
  • Granola bars
  • Fruit smoothies
  • Fresh fruit
  • Energy bars
  • Bagels
  • Crackers and peanut butter

Obviously, there are a wide variety of potential snacks and you should do what works for you, what feels good at the time, and what truly produces the results you desire in your workouts.

Now, For Those Who Want to Eat After Exercise

A post-workout meal or snack will assist you in restoring depleted glycogen stores and help with overall muscle recovery. To accomplish this, have a meal or snack which contains both carbohydrates and protein; this should be done within two hours of your workout. If you can't take in a whole meal after this strenuous exercise, try a sports drink, snack, or juice in order to replenish lost carbohydrates.

So, when asked do you eat before or after working out what should you answer? Well, it depends upon your schedule, what you find works best for you, the type of exercise (3-mile walk or an epic marathon, for example), and how your body reacts to either a pre- or post-workout meal. In the end, it's about what works for your specific set of practices and how you feel before/during/and after exercise.

Did you have enough energy to complete the tasks? Did you feel good after your workout? Good enough to do it again tomorrow? If so, what you're doing is working. So keep on doing it!

Resources: Am I Supposed to Eat Before or After I Workout? Eating and Exercise: 5 Tips to Maximize Your Workouts.

Above photo attributed to pasukara76

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