Should You Eat Before Exercising?

Should you eat before you workout? Survey four different experts and you’ll get four different answers, all backed by research. Some people swear by a completely empty stomach, some say you get more out of it if you snack beforehand, and some don’t care about food at all but say caffeine is key. Who should you believe?

The argument for not eating is that your body burns fat cells more efficiently when you work out on an empty stomach. Plus, when you start exercising, blood is diverted away from the gut (where it was helping digestion) towards the muscles you’re using, which is a double whammy. You’re not able to digest as well on top of burning energy from blood sugar instead of energy from fat cells (which is what everyone wants to get rid of).

It might sound convincing, but the counter argument is just as logical. If you workout on an empty stomach, your blood sugar dips (because your body quickly uses it all up). When you’re low on blood sugar, you lack the ability to work out as hard (or so the proponents of snacking before workouts suggest). Sure, you might be burning fat, but not as much as if you had a healthy blood sugar level from consuming food before you work out. In other words, you could be compromising your gains by not having the right chemicals your body needs to work hard.

While both of these arguments are supported by science, anecdotal evidence can vary widely based on the person. In the end, you should trust your body to tell you what it needs to get the most out of your workout!