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Eating Before Exercise

Updated on April 23, 2009

Should I ever exercise on an empty stomach?

No matter what time of day you exercise, you should never workout on an empty stomach.

Eating a snack within the couple of hours before you exercise will provide you with more fuel for your workout routine. In fact, if you are not fueled up enough, your workout simply will not provide the same benefits that it would if you had eaten.

I like to exercise in the morning. Do I have to eat breakfast first?

You don't have to eat an entire meal, but you should eat something before you start exercising. After a night's sleep, your body has basically fasted for many hours (hopefully about 8 hours). Without eating or drinking for so many hours, your blood pressure is pretty darn low and this will affect your workout.

Eat some yogurt, drink some water, and then continue getting your morning started before exercising.

What if I don't eat before working out?

Well, you may not feel the effects, but it is likely that you won't perform as well in your exercise as you could. Other effects could be:

  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting/Passing Out
  • Lack of Energy

Does it matter what I eat before working out?

The kind of meal you eat can change the effectiveness of your workout.

A balanced diet includes a combination of carbohydrates, fat, and protein. However, the kinds of carbs you include in your pre-exercise meals/snacks can affect the amount of calories you burn while exercising.

Two Types of Carbohydrates:

  • high-glycemic index carbs
  • low-glycemic index carbs

To burn more calories, you should eat a low-glycemic carb meal.

You may have heard about athletes who need to eat a high carb meal, but this doesn't apply to everyone. If you are exercising at a level below triathlon intensity, you should eat a low-glycemic carb meal.

What kinds of foods should I eat before exercising?

  • Muesli
  • Oats
  • Bran
  • Barley
  • Legumes
  • Yogurt
  • Skim Milk
  • Fruit
  • Whole Grains
  • Quinoa
  • Vegetables

Should I exercise right after I eat?

You know your own body, so you probably know that if you eat and jump into a workout routine, you will feel kind of funky. Allow the food to settle a bit before exercising. If it is a small snack, it probably doesn't need as much time as an actual meal does. When i exercise in the morning, I drink some water and eat a small yogurt. Then I get ready for my workout: change into my gym clothes, fill my water bottle, etc. By the time I'm ready, the food has had time to settle.


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    • profile image

      Answersinwriting 6 years ago

      Wow! That was such a good article. I have been training for years. What you said was true. Very clear and well written.

    • PaulEdward profile image

      PaulEdward 6 years ago from England

      Exercising without eating is like trying to operate a car without fuel. You'll be able to go at it for a while until eventually, your body will just give up. Regarding eating as well, it's the quality of the food that you must also consider as well. In my case, a hot bowl of porridge (oatmeal) and a cup of unsweetened green tea is sufficient.

    • InfoNet profile image

      InfoNet 7 years ago

      good job, i really love, very interesting!

    • st lucia for sale profile image

      st lucia for sale 7 years ago from St Lucia

      I notice a huge difference in the effectiveness in my workout if I don't eat beforehand. Good advice in this hub.

    • mailxpress profile image

      Michelle Cesare 8 years ago from New York


      I agree you should eat something before working out. I usually have a banana, peach or yogurt. I work out twice a week for an hour. Good Hub.


    • thebigidea profile image

      thebigidea 8 years ago

      Good hub! Very important info that most people don't think about.

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 8 years ago from malang-indonesia

      try to eat 2 hours before exercise, this is doctor suggetion. don;t try to exercise with empty stomach. nice hub. visit me back OK

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 8 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Good information. I really like your graphics that you use in your hubs.

    • jacobkuttyta profile image

      jacobkuttyta 8 years ago from Delhi, India

      Good post. keep it up

    • bogdanpsc profile image

      bogdanpsc 8 years ago

      You're right. Eating before you start training is essential. Especially if you eat some carbs to boost your energy level

    • treadmills profile image

      treadmills 8 years ago

      Good information, I need to eat a pretty big meal around1 1/2 hours before exercise if I'm going to get the most out of a workout.

    • G-Ma Johnson profile image

      Merle Ann Johnson 8 years ago from NW in the land of the Free

      Well I don't have to worry sweetie cause I eat all the time LOL...No is good advice and I shall remember this cause sometimes I do my workout and then am starved when done and go get something to eat...I see would be more beneficial before I start...Love You...G-Ma :O) Hugs

    • fishskinfreak2008 profile image

      fishskinfreak2008 8 years ago from Fremont CA

      This is very good advice for people here in Hong Kong who practice tai chi without eating. Great ideas. Thumbs up

    • profile image

      Nancy's Niche 8 years ago

      Thanks for the information on "proper eating and diet."

    • RickyDLV profile image

      RickyDLV 8 years ago from USA and occasionally other countries.

      Great Hub, you are right a very small portion of some high nutrition low fat is great to have soon before a workout. The settle time is to let most of the food to get beyond the stomach. As my fellow wrestlers and martial artists will agree, working out hard with anything but water in your stomach can cause a purge.

      Love your style, here is a request for some healthy foods. Hope you enjoy.

      Be Well