Exercise nutrition: whether you should eat before or after a workout depends on your fitness goals - Deepstash

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Eating before or after you exercise

Research shows the importance of nutrition for exercise. However, it is not always clear whether it's best to eat before or after you exercise.

The following should be considered:

  • What you're training for.
  • The level you're at. An elite athlete's needs differ from a beginner.
  • Considering what works for you.

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Eating before exercise

When we exercise, our bodies use energy, either supplied by carbohydrates stored in our bodies, or from the food we eat.

  • If the exercise is demanding or we exercise for a long time, we use more stored carbohydrate.
  • If your energy is low, or you're doing a longer or more demanding session, consuming carbohydrate-rich foods such as pasta, rice, cereals or fruit three to four hours before exercise can help.
  • Eating lower glycemic index foods such as porridge oats or whole grain bread can better sustain energy during exercise.
  • Eating right before exercising could cause indigestion, cramps or nausea.
  • If your goal is building strength or muscle, eating protein before exercise may improve overall recovery responses.

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Eating after exercise

Recent research shows that training in a fasted state can lead to efficient fuel use, fat burning, improved blood sugar and hormone regulation. This is helpful when training for a marathon to help delay fatigue.

  • Studies also show that eating soon after exercise can help maximise recovery, particularly eating carbohydrates.
  • But there is also evidence that eating protein during recovery can maximise muscle growth. If training is done later in the day, eating a small protein meal before bed can help with acute recovery.

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Eating before and after exercising

There is a clear advantage for eating before and during longer duration exercise. Using nutrition to strategically recover is essential for those who want to maximise their workouts.

When resistance training, consuming a combination of mainly carbohydrate, protein, and creatine before and after exercise, provide better muscle and strength gains over ten weeks.

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