An article published in the Strength and Conditioning Journal last year concluded that our bodies burn the same amount of fat during exercise regardless of whether or not you eat before a workout. Additionally, your body can actually start to lose muscle instead of fat if you do not eat before a workout, which should never be the goal of any fitness routine. Bottom line is, the higher percentage of lean muscle mass you have, the less percentage of fat you will have. Simple as that. Why do you think bodybuilders are so ripped yet eat so much food? Because they are mostly lean muscle!
Another reason you should eat before a workout is to have plenty of energy to put into the workout. If you wake up in the morning and head straight to the gym without eating anything there is a very good chance that you will not be able to exercise as hard as you would had you eaten a light snack or meal.
For those of you who love cardiovascular exercise, you already know that high intensity interval training (HIIT training) is one of the most effective ways to burn calories and lose body fat. However, most people cannot maintain that type of intensity after not eating for 10 to 12 hours.
If you are most interested in gaining lean muscle mass you must eat before a workout to achieve maximum results. I cannot stress that enough. When you strength training on an empty stomach, your body can start to use protein for energy, drawing it away from your muscles thereby inhibiting muscle growth.
Timing Pre Workout Meals
So now that you know how important it is to eat before a workout, when is the best time to eat before a workout? How many minutes or hours are best to eat before a workout? That primarily depends on when you plan on working out.
For people who exercise in the morning, before work for example, consume a light, healthy meal containing simple carbohydrates and whey protein 30 to 60 minutes prior to your workout such as a:
Small bowl of cereal with very little skim milk, or
1/4 cup of oatmeal, or
Banana and 10 to 20 grams whey protein mixed with water, or
6 oz. yogurt
As you can see, the above meals are fairly light. If you stick to consuming only 20 to 50 grams of carbohydrates and 10 to 20 grams of protein 30 to 60 minutes before working out, you should be okay.
A midday exerciser is someone who has already consumed breakfast and lunch. Most of these people have eaten a meal within the last 2 to 3 hours. If so, it may not be necessary to eat again before working out.
Here are a few healthy meals that can be eaten 2 to 3 hours before a workout:
Cup of oatmeal with blueberries
Turkey and cheese sandwich on whole wheat bread and 12 ounces of 100% fruit juice
Cup of whole grain or whole wheat spaghetti and spaghetti sauce
Bagel with peanut butter
For more examples effective pre workout meals, read my post Pre Workout Meal.
For those of you that like to work out in the evening, after work for example, you have most likely (or should have been) eating healthy meals and snacks throughout the day.
Just like the midday exerciser, you have probably eaten a well-balanced meal within the last 2 to 3 hours. If you haven't eaten in the past 2 to 3 hours or feel extremely hungry, eat a light healthy meal following the same guidelines as the early riser.
As I stated before, 10 to 20 grams of whey protein mixed with water is a great pre workout snack to consume 30 to 60 minutes prior to workout.
I cannot stress enough how important it is to eat before a workout and specifically when to eat before a workout. Do not starve yourself before a workout as it can lead to muscle loss over time.
If you are an early riser and prefer to workout in the morning, consume a light healthy snack approximately 30 to 60 minutes prior to workout.
If you prefer to workout midday and have eaten a well-balanced meal in the last 2 to 3 hours, it is probably safe to hold off eating again until the workout is completed. However, if you feel extremely hungry, eat a healthy snack following the same guidelines as the early riser.
Lastly, if you are a night owl and prefer to workout in the evening after work, it is probably safe to hold off eating again until the workout is completed since you have probably eaten within the last few hours (breakfast, lunch, and snacks). Again, if you still feel very hungry, consume a healthy snack following the same guidelines as the early riser.
Bottom line is you are the only person that can gauge how hungry you are your sensitivity to eat before a workout. If you try eating a light meal before a workout and experience cramps, you may have to eat a smaller amount or try waiting another 30 minutes for your food to digest.
The most important thing is that your meals and snacks throughout the day should contain healthy carbohydrates and protein. Stay away from saturated fat and Trans fat.
Finally, make sure you eat an adequate post workout meal, which I explain in another post.
If you have any input or comments please feel free to post them. I am a fan of constructive criticism!
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/expert/Brandon_Cummo/1207973